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Review: Blair Witch – “Never the non-stop nail-gnawer it should be”

blair witch

A sorta pseudo sequel slash reboot to The Blair Witch Project, Blair Witch is directed by one of my favourite modern horror directors, Adam Wingard (‘You’re Next’ and ‘The Guest’), and stars Callie Hernandez (Alien: Covenant), James Allen McCune (The Walking Dead), and Valorie Curry (The Following).

Starting it’s life in movie goers consciousness as a film called “The Woods”, before being revealed to secretly be ‘Blair Witch’ was the best bait and switch in movies in forever. Unfortunately the “scariest film ever” hype that came with that makes the film itself feel like a bait and switch too.

Blair Witch is competent, and has it’s moments – but is not the game changer it has been promoted as. The hyperbolic press quotes and publicity has worked against the film, and I get it: it’s promotion, it’s advertising – but I cannot help but feel that the film would have worked better left as a surprise. A movie that audiences who hadn’t seen the original could just watch as high grade found footage; and crowds who did know the original would have had an amazing reveal ten minutes in when a character starts talks about searching for his sister Heather – who went missing filming a documentary in the woods outside Burkittsville.

That guy is James (McCune), and his film student friend Lisa (Hernandez) is making her own documentary about them going back to Burkittsville to look for Heather, Josh and Mike from the original movie. The scoobies join up with a couple, Lane and Talia (Curry and Wes Robinson) who claim to know the location of where the final tapes were found, and set off into the enormous and isolated forest.

Events play out very similarly to the original – tent poking, noises, stick figures – but Wingard goes bigger and throws in more tech: smaller cameras (and loads of them), GPS, and even a drone. His use of sound provides some scares, implying there is something BIIIG crashing around through the trees, but the rules of the series hamstring his efforts. All that tech has to go, those Blair Witch accoutrements all have to be rolled out again, and there are no answers provided.

To make up for this there is a great claustrophobic squeeze through a tunnel sequence, some moments of body horror that may leave you seeing your lunch again, and a two minute stretch an hour in where everything goes delightfully crazy, but it’s not enough. An element of time loops is frustratingly never fully realised, certain characters untrustworthiness is too blatantly signposted, and although there are scares, Blair Witch is never the non-stop nail-gnawer it should be, you want it to be, or that you have led to believe it will be.


Blair Witch is released in the UK on the 16th of September.

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