Blair Witch

I’m terns of unnecessary legacy sequels this one isn’t the worst. It feels like it was made with real care and attention. But the unnecessary nature of its very existence really weighs it down.

In 1999 the Blair Witch Project terrified audiences with its innovative found footage approach. In 2014, I finally watched Blair Witch Project and hated it. I found it’s shaky camera work nauseating. I found it’s characters insufferable stupid. I thought it did nothing to earn its big moments. And I thought the lack of any actual danger infuriating.

Two years after I saw the original, they released a sequel entitled Blair Witch. This movie resolves a lot of my issues with the original, yet it remains as disappointing to me.

The biggest issue I had with the original is the shaky cinematography that never let me focus on anything or really get my bearings. This movie gives every character a camera that they wear, with sharp he quality and stead motion. Finally I can see everything. But I don’t care. The added production value and smooth motion just detract from the authenticity of the film. The more professional it looks the less I buy it.

The characters here made better decisions than the originals. Nobody throws away a map or does anything actively dumb. But the actors are clearly acting. They are giving performances instead of behaving and reacting to the world around them. I was annoyed by the characters in the original. I don’t believe the characters in the sequel.

It bugged me that there was no clear threat to our protagonists in the original. It was mostly three idiots overreacting to noises in the woods. This movie goes overboard creating threats. There are skinny pale gollum men in the woods. There are centipede things that burrow under the skin. Time is manipulated by the evil woods leading to endless nights. The woods is full of villains.

Again though it just felt like too much. I didn’t buy into it. The thing under the skin freaked me out. The impossibly tall and skinny person creepy was creepy. But two out of ten wasn’t a great track record. I just wanted focus on one or two threats, not a cadre of sinister villains.

Ignoring the original does this work as a scary movie? No. The high tech equipment and deliberate editing undermines the authenticity of the found footage conceit. The performances are too actorly to feel real and compelling. The story itself is unfocused. It’s about a guy trying to find his sister. But it’s really about his girlfriend trying to make a movie. There are a few jump scares that startled me.

The best scene involves an unbroken pov shot of one character pulling what looks like a massive splinter out of her leg. The unbroken shot heightens the dread. There are no edits to relieve our tension. The performance is great. Her voice is wavering and broken. Her hands shake with adrenaline and fear. The makeup and effects are awesome. The wound oozes with puss as she attempts to pull it free. It’s a very convincing effect. The scene is awesome because it shows restraint and builds the tension naturally. I wish the rest of the movie had restraint and tension.

This wasn’t my cup of tea. I thought it would be. It had all the elements I thought would improve on the original. Sadly they did the opposite. Maybe I’m just fickle. This did make me curious to watch the original again. Maybe time and comparison have aged it well. But for this one… it’s a C

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