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Hi everyone, Bryan here…
Seventeen years later, we have journeyed back into the Black Woods in Burkittsville, Maryland to seek out the Blair Witch. Back in 1999, one of the first examples of viral marketing came splashing on the scene with ‘The Blair Witch Project‘, where we saw trailers of faux police interviews and news reports that three college kids went missing in the woods and the footage that was found was real. Filmed all with a handheld camera in first person back in 1999, this film was one of the first movies to deal with the “found footage” aspect and it worked to great effect as everyone thought the film and people in it were real. It was highly effective and scary-as-hell and became a cult-phenomenon and paved the way for tons of “found footage” movies.
The movie was made for only $60,000 and ended up bringing in almost $250 million. There was a sequel called ‘Book of Shadows‘, but it was nothing like the original and was poorly received by the masses, even though I enjoyed the film. Cut to present day where director Adam Wingard (‘The Guest‘) and writer Simon Barrett (‘The Guest‘) fooled everyone into thinking they were making a movie called ‘The Woods‘, but at San Diego Comic Con, it was unveiled that its real title was ‘Blair Witch‘, which is a sequel to the original film, set twenty years later. Like the original film, this follows a group of college kids, four this time who cross paths with two locals who want to tag along.
The leader of this group is James Donahue, who is the brother of Heather Donahue from the first film who went missing. James along with his friends set out to find out what really happened, where like the original film, things start to happen in the woods. Wingard and Barrett have added some excellent mystique and twists this time around regarding the folklore and the witch herself, but they never give too many details, which makes the film still fresh and begs you to dive into that rabbit hole of its myth. Since we are twenty years later, there are some technological advances to use the film equipment, such as a drone and blue tooth ear cameras, which were cool to see used in this setting.
The start of the film is business as usual with the usual subtle scares, but the last twenty minutes of the film is where things turn to eleven on the Holy-Shit-O-Meter and never stops. There are some real genuine scares here, and not just the type to make you jump out of your seat either. These scares stay with you for a while and make you afraid to walk down the dark hallway at night. This is an excellent sequel that pays homage to the original, while keeping the stories and characters fresh some twenty years later. Despite some cheap scares in the beginning, ‘Blair Witch‘ is back and scary-as-hell.