REVIEW: Blair Witch (2016)

Release Poster - Lionsgate
Release Poster – Lionsgate

The following is a spoiler-free review of Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch.

This new Blair Witch was a pretty big surprise this year. For quite a while Adam Wingard’s 2016 horror film was titled The Woods. And – I have to admit that – I wasn’t really excited for The Woods. Not only was the Blair Witch reveal a great surprise, it also got me interested in the film immediately.

I’m not a huge fan of the original film, but I enjoy it for what it is, and I really liked the idea of making a new sequel to the horror cult ‘classic.’ I was especially excited when I heard about the plot of the film. And while I don’t think Blair Witch is an amazing found footage horror film, I had a really good time with it. 

2016’s Blair Witch follows Heather Donahue’s brother James (Played by James Allen McCune) after he has found an online video showing – what he believes to be – his sister ‘very much alive.’ Three friends accompany him to Maryland where they meet two locals that join them in their search for Heather and the Black Hills woods’ house.

This film has already gotten a lot of hate online, which I attribute mostly due to how excited people were for it. I think it might’ve been overhyped. All that said, though, I do have some pretty big problems with the film that bugged me when I was watching it during its opening weekend.

Some of the new characters are unlikable, and some of the performances suffer from overacting. I also think it is very much like the original film. I don’t think it is as big of a problem as some people are making it out to be, but I could see why it would annoy some people.

My biggest problem with the film, though, is that the filmmakers ruin some of the great tension in the film with a lot of annoying and startling jump scares again and again. There are some really scary, tense, and unsettling moments in this film, but the jump scares are just really cheap and they ‘took me out of the film.’

But I really enjoyed this sequel a lot, and one of the big reasons why I enjoyed it was that the new things the filmmakers threw in there really worked. There’s some great use of modern technology, and both the director and the writer add to the mythology of the franchise in a great way.

I really liked the two main characters – James and Lisa – and I loved that they were taking a familymember of Heather and making him the protagonist of the film. Because you did care about the original film’s characters, and seeing as this film is basically about finding these characters out there, you are always invested in the story of this new film.

But the very best thing about this film is its final act. While there are a lot of good scenes leading up to the final act, the film really kicks into high gear with twenty or fifteen minute left to go. And it is so tense and exciting. There are some pretty amazing wow-moments there. I do know that some people have a problem with the very end of the film, but I thought it was the only ending possible as the film progressed.

The found footage horror sub-genre isn’t for everyone, but I tend to enjoy those kinds of films. Blair Witch isn’t the best film in the genre – not at all – but I do think it is one of the more entertaining films in the genre from the last few years. At best, Blair Witch is a good sequel to a cult film, and, at worst, it is a solid Blair Witch for a new generation to enjoy. Blair Witch gives you another reason not to go hiking in the woods.

7.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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