It was 20 years ago when James Donahue’s sister disappeared in the Black Hills Forest while filming a documentary on the local legend the Blair Witch. Since then, he has always wanted to find the truth of what happened to her, and hoped she was still out there somewhere. One day he finds a video on youtube of a mysterious woman covered in mud, running though the same house that appeared at the end of Heather’s footage. When he finds out the footage came from a tape found in the woods recently, a group of his friends (including a film student named Lisa) decide to go with him to document his attempt at finding closure.
James manages to track down the people who found the tape, so Lisa equips them all with headset cameras and the like to explore the area around the tape’s location. However, the couple who found the tape want to tag along as they are curious too, so James reluctantly agrees that they all should go. Clashing personalities and tensions grow as they venture deeper into the woods.
There’s not much else to say about the movie plot wise (without unleashing a shitload of spoilers). The movie treads a lot of the same ground as the first film for the first half or so. Group goes out in woods, hears noises at night, finds stickmen and piles of rocks, so on. They get, understandably freaked out and decide to leave, but soon find they are lost. This first stretch of the movie is very reminiscent of the first film. Then all hell breaks loose.
The last half of the film is the complete opposite of the first. Everything you are seeing is new, and it’s all extremely intense. For those last 40 minutes or so, this movie grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go. There are many things I sort of expect from a Blair Witch movie, and I got those in the first half. The things I saw in the second half…I wasn’t totally prepared for. Clearly the witch has learned some new tricks since 1994.
Something else that is new is the equipment everyone uses. First of all is the drone, which seems gimmicky, but is used sparingly. Basically, they just send it straight up to try to find where the edge of the woods is so they know where to go (Guess what? It doesn’t help). The other new things are the headset cameras, and those are not only a neat way to show the footage, but also help to fix a question that always comes up in found footage movies: “Why are they still filming?”. Since they are wearing their cameras, they are never in the way, and never create a situation where I’m like “Put down the damn camera and help!”
Blair Witch is written and directed by Adam Wingard and Simon Barret, the duo behind You’re Next and The Guest. Clearly these guys loved the original film, as this one stays as close to the spirit and mythology as it possibly can. There are so many details and little bits of backstory I learned over the last few days writing the last three posts, and they are littered across this film. Supposedly the map from the first film is even included as an easter egg, but Adam Wingard says no one has found it yet.
Overall, Blair Witch is a nice little film that really lives up to the original movie that inspired it. While the film does seem like a bit of a retread, it eventually ramps up to a point where you are on the edge of your seat for long periods. A lot of the new theories and ideas introduced are weird but very intriguing and respectful of the series lore. This is definitely one to check out if you like this series, it’s mythology, or just fun thrill ride horror films.