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.
Following the massive success of The Blair Witch Project, Artisan Films wanted a sequel, sooner rather than later. Artisan got in touch with the writers/directors of the first film, but they turned Artisan down, saying they wanted to wait a few years to make a great sequel. After that Artisan commissioned 3 separate scripts for a Blair Witch 2 and went in search of a director.
At the same time, documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger was meeting with Artisan to try to get his own film made. Artisan passed on it, but asked him if he would be interested in the Blair Witch sequel. After reading the scripts he said he didn’t like any of them, but instead pitched his own idea for the film. Artisan immediately hired him to begin work on it, the film that would become Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.
While The Blair Witch project hinted at a larger mythology surrounding the events of the film, it didn’t really go too in depth. Fortunately, an opportunity to explore the legends and events appeared when it was decided to create some new content to promote The Blair Witch Project on Sci-Fi channel prior to its release. The end result of this was the faux documentary “Curse of the Blair Witch”.
It was the summer of 1999. The movie world was just catching it’s breath from The Matrix, a film which changed how we think about action films and how they are made. Little did everyone know, it wasn’t the only genre redefining film coming that year. No, not long after there was The Blair Witch Project.
Filmed in the woods in Maryland over 8 days for a budget of $22 thousand, somehow The Blair Witch Project defied all expectations and went on to earn just under $250 million worldwide. Through a combination of raw/realistic performances, gritty production and first-of-it’s-kind viral marketing, The Blair Witch Project became a powerhouse, spreading like wildfire through word of mouth and turning into an unlikely blockbuster.
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Last year, Alex Garland wrote and directed the superb Ex Machina, a tale of a man selected to put an android with advanced AI through the Turing test to see if she could pass as human. That film is expertly crafted by Garland and performed to near perfection by Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson.
Watch that film instead.
There, now that I have that out of the way, Morgan covers much of the same ground as Ex Machina, just not as well. Morgan is by no means a bad film…It’s just a rather run-of-the-mill Sci-Fi/Horror Thriller.
Warning: Potential spoilers follow.
5) War Dogs
While War Dogs was the “worst” movie I’ve seen lately, it doesn’t mean I necessarily think it’s a bad film. War Dogs stars Jonah Hill and Miles as two 20-something-year old gun runners who work in a grey area in selling guns as a part of the war effort in Iraq. The movie was just “okay” to me simply because Todd Howard, the director of The Hangover trilogy, never commits to whether he wants to portray this film as a serious film or if he wants to play this type of behavior off as a comedy. I would recommend War Dogs if you’re a fan of the people involved but don’t expect anything great or new.
4) Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo and the Two Strings is a great movie that would usually top my list for movies I have seen lately but man, the last month of August was filled with great stuff. Kubo was funny, it had heart, and the storyline was pretty great. Usually I don’t like 3D films but I feel like Kubo is a movie that should be seen in 3D but it’s not necessary if you don’t like 3D. Kubo stars Art Parkinson as Kubo, Matthew McConaughey as Beetle, and Charlize Theron as Monkey. The movie is the fourth movie produced by Laika who is also responsible for movies such as ParaNorman, Coraline, and The Boxtrolls. The animation in this movie is stop-motion which was great and the movie as a whole really has no flaws in my honest opinion. It’s something that both kids and adults alike and I recommend it to anybody who loves animated movies like I do.
3) Don’t Think Twice
I never would have thought that a movie starring Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele) and Gillian Jacobs (Community and Netflix’s LOVE) would be as great and move me as much as it did. Don’t Think Twice puts the focus on an improv group called The Commune and the daily struggles of being a comedian in general. For much of the movie, the focus is on the struggles of comedians trying to hit it big and to do something bigger. I thought the acting in this movie was top notch and I feel like this was a big surprise for me personally. I did not expect this movie to be as great as it was but I loved every minute of it and for me, it never felt like the movie dragged at all. I would recommend this movie for people who like to go behind the curtain of how comedians go about their business day-by-day.
2) Hell or High Water
Hell or High Water might be one of the best movies I have seen in recent memory. The acting was great, the story was great, I cared about every character, and the cinematography in this movie was excellent and beautiful. Hell or High Water stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Bridges; Pine and Foster play brothers who rob banks and as you might assume, Jeff Bridges plays the Texas Ranger who tries to bring them to justice. I feel like Ben Foster is honestly the actor who stole the show in this movie. Foster plays Chris Pine’s troublemaker brother and he plays the role very well because he’s insane in a way but he’s very smart at the same time. What I mean by “insane” is that Foster clearly has a hold of what is going on throughout the film, he isn’t totally off the hinges like a Norman Bates-type character. I feel like both Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges did a great job as well. I feel like when there was action, it was intense. When there was humor, it was actually funny. Another interesting character was Jeff Bridges’ Ranger partner; they have an interesting relationship and an interesting dynamic that I loved. Hell or High Water was great and I had a lot of fun with it; I recommend this movie to everyone.
1) Don’t Breathe
Anything I say about this movie, many of you would have already read about it with Bob’s post on said movie. Let me just say that I loved this movie. I thought this was a great “horror” film and I’m a little biased when it comes to horror films but I loved this movie and I am considering seeing it two times in the theaters. As far as horror movies go, there was nothing wrong with this movie and I liked the twists that were unraveled in this movie as it went on. I thought Jane Levy was great as the lead, Dylan Minnette played a great role as the co-star, and Stephen Lang played a great villain who I was generally rooting against for the second half of the movie. I feel like if you love horror movies, Don’t Breathe is something you should check out. The Babadook, The Witch, and It Follows were all polarizing horror films; however, not all of these films were generally agreed upon as something of quality. I feel like Don’t Breathe is something that many people can agree on simply because it’s a simple plotline but it executes it to near perfection. Don’t Breathe is something that leaves you breathless until the very end.
Following up the success of his insane, grueling, and gory remake of Evil Dead in 2013, Fede Alvarez has returned with his second studio picture, Don’t Breathe. He once again teams with star Jane Levy (Evil Dead, Suburgatory) for this film, which is one of those amazing premises that makes me say “Damn, I wish I thought of that.”Read More »