Saturday, September 17, 2016
Blair Witch Review
Like I said, The Blair Witch Project has a fascinating history. I have mad respect for what the movie managed to pull off and as such I will say that it is a phenomenal found footage movie. Probably the best found footage movie there is. But I am not one who experienced this movie-going event in theaters. I was only 10 years old at the time of its release and I certainly wasn't into that type of horror movie at such a young age. I had always heard about it and was interested in seeing it, but I never got around to seeing it until recently. If you haven't seen it, it's the type of movie where you need to be aware of this history to fully understand and appreciate it. But if I'm being honest, despite me believing that it's a great found footage me and realizing that it successfully accomplished what it set out to do, I don't think it's a movie that holds up. Yes, if three kids did get lost in the woods and their footage was later discovered and edited down into 81 minutes of footage, this is exactly what it would look like. But as a movie, it's not that great. Most of its 81 minute runtime consists of these three hikers walking around and complaining that they're lost. It's not that scary and there's no real payoff. Sorry, I'm not a fan. I respect it. But I don't love it.
But did people actually really want another sequel to The Blair Witch Project? Based on early weekend projections, apparently not. Especially not when reviews and word of mouth have not been so good. It only has 37 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, 5.9 on IMDb, a D+ cinemascore, and a projected opening weekend total of less than $10 million. But do you know what? Going into this movie, I didn't actually pay much attention to the reviews simply because I knew my experience with The Blair Witch Project was much different than others. If you're one that loved The Blair Witch Project, thinking it was disturbing and scary, I don't know if this review is going to be any help to you. I didn't think The Blair Witch Project was scary at all. As I said, 81 minutes of people whining and complaining that they were lost with piles of rocks and stick contraptions showing up occasionally. Realistic, yes. Scary, no. This sequel, Blair Witch, is no masterpiece by any means. But the goal for these filmmakers was to make a good, scary movie instead of trying to make a movie that would convince people that the Blair Witch actually existed and that these kids actually got lost in the woods. As such, I think Blair Witch is actually a scarier movie than it's predecessor.
Let's talk about the problems in this movie, though, because there's plenty of them. The biggest one that everyone has been bringing up is that this is kinda the same movie as the first one. At least for the first half. The second half of the movie goes in a much different direction and I'll touch on that in a second, but the first half of the movie goes point for point along with the first movie. We're following the younger brother of the girl that went missing. He thinks his sister is still alive. So he decides to make a documentary. He gets some friends to go camping in the woods. We talk about the Blair Witch. They set up camp. Weird things start to happen. People loose their tempers. There's less focus on the whining and complaining, which I appreciated. Also in the first one there's a steady stream of cursing throughout most of the second half of the movie once things go wrong and that wasn't the focus here either, which was nice, but I still felt like I was watching a movie that used the exact same script with different characters. So what's the difference between this and a movie like Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Well, there's a bit a fine line between following a formula, paying homage, and making the exact same movie. But there is a difference. The Force Awakens follows a formula. Blair Witch makes the same exact movie twice.
Overall, The Blair Witch Project and Blair Witch are two movies that had two very different goals. The goal of The Blair Witch Project was to make a movie that would trick people into thinking that the footage people saw in the theaters was actual footage. Thus it was a perfect found footage movie in terms of how realistic it was. But the consequences of this goal is that 17 years later the actual movie itself is a little boring and lifeless. We see nothing. We hear hardly anything. There's no payoff. It's not scary. Instead there's 81 minutes of people wandering around in the woods complaining that they were lost and letting out a constant stream of cursing. The goal of Blair Witch was to actually make a movie that was scary. Yes, they focus too much on annoying horror clichés and copy the plot of the first movie too much, but it felt like a more complete movie to me. And despite some annoyances in the first half, the movie actually payed off with a fantastic finale and a phenomenal final scene. Not a masterpiece by any means, but I enjoyed it more than I did the first. In giving a grade to both movies, I would probably give The Blair Witch Project a 6/10. I've not actually seen Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and nor do I ever plan on doing so, which is why I've ignored it in this review. But I do think Blair Witch is a serviceable horror that I enjoyed, so I will give it a 7/10.