Blair Witch is one of the best-shot found footage films ever made, yet it struggles because of its thin script and uninspiring characters.
Adam Wingard‘s Blair Witch is an interesting flick, coming across as both a well-made and solidly executed found-footage horror film, yet one that boasts a thin script and uninspiring characters.
Wingard’s skills as a horror director are present as he manages to make Blair Witch feel just as frightening and as suspenseful as the original film when it shook the movie landscape with its then-foreign found-footage approach, yet writer Simon Barrett‘s script is a weak shell of a story that calls on the first film far too much, while relying on predictable story progression.
Blair Witch takes place over a decade after the events of The Blair Witch Project, which saw a documentary crew go into woods that are rumored to be cursed/haunted.
No one ever returned after the trip, yet their footage was found and studied. Now, the younger brother of one of the missing girls has decided to bring a group of friends and a pair of YouTubers out into the woods in search for his sister and in search for some answers.
In typical horror fashion, Blair Witch offers up very few answers and instead brings forth many more questions that will likely never get answered.
This is typical horror movie plot structuring that’s grown very tired and annoying at this point, which is an extremely surprising complaint, especially considering that Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett has revitalized the horror genre multiple times, with films like You’re Next and The Guest.
Wingard and Barrett have worked together on several occasions and with great success, which makes Blair Witch feel like a puzzling and sometimes even frustrating experience.
Wingard’s direction is clearly the strongest factor of this project. There are quite a few solid jump scares and the “shaky cam” vibes of The Blair Witch only poke their heads in Blair Witch towards the end of the film. Most of the camerawork is creative and well-placed, which really does help increase the scare factor. I was impressed with how many times I jumped in my seat while watching this film, despite almost always knowing what was coming up next.
Wingard knows how to show just enough to hold your interest, yet still leave you second-guessing yourself with what you just saw on the screen. It’s a genius approach that mostly works well from a directing standpoint for the film.
Unfortunately, Simon Barrett‘s script doesn’t help fill in the holes and instead creates even more. Blair Witch doesn’t really answer any of the questions from the first film and feels an awful lot like the first film in terms of how the witch is introduced to the group.
The film almost feels like an exact remake, only some of the scares are elevated with the use of better cameras and a bit broader approach. The Blair Witch felt like a small, contained experimental horror film, while Blair Witch feels like an expanded, yet retreaded version of that very same story.
The names may be different and the story slightly re-tooled, but Blair Witch is basically the exact same thing.
This is what will most-likely frustrate fans of the original. I know I was personally expecting much more, yet I feel like new-comers might eat this one up as one of the better made found-footage flicks.
Wingard knows how to create suspense and tension and he’s really good at establishing a slow-burn atmosphere that definitely ramps up as it goes, but man why did he even have to bother calling this one Blair Witch?
Perhaps the original title could’ve worked and maybe a slightly altered script? The fact that this is a Blair Witch film draws immediate comparison to the previous two films, which leaves Blair Witch feeling like the most uninspiring one of the trio, despite being the most well-made.
Blair Witch is without a doubt one of the better found-footage films in terms of its camerawork and overall direction. I will credit Adam Wingard for proving that you can make a found-footage film that benefits from the handheld approach. The film makes good use of today’s technology in a way that feels like natural progression for horror filmmaking and found-footage filmmaking.
Claustrophobic people will especially hate this film towards the end, while horror-lovers will appreciate Wingard’s ability to make great use of sound, editing and pacing.
Sadly, the rest of the production is a tedious mess. The script is uninspiring and a carbon copy of the first film, which undermines some of the scares and ruins the lasting appeal of the entire idea. The characters aren’t all that noteworthy either, which is why I’ve mostly skipped over commenting on the actors and actresses — there’s just nothing worth commenting about aside from how Wingard has managed to direct the film with as much skill as humanly possible — given the atrocious script that Simon Barrett has presented him.
Hopefully, their next team effort is more balanced. Blair Witch will without a doubt scare those looking for a horror film to enjoy around Halloween time, but don’t walk in expecting any surprises. It’s as by-the-numbers as they come in terms of its story, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t scare the living shit out of you at one point or another.