It was fifteen years ago when a MISSING poster graced the front cover of the local newspaper, telling the story of three missing college students who disappeared while making a documentary about the Blair Witch, for a school project, in the woods in Maryland. Soon after, local news had picked up the story, as well as national news and soon, they said that video tapes from the students had been found and they told a horrifying story. They would release these tapes into the theater so everyone could see exactly what had happened to these three students, Heather Donahue, Michael William and Joshua Leonard. This movie would be called The Blair Witch Project.
Written and directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, The Blair Witch Project was a genius film, using peoples fear and superstition to advertise their movie as a true story and it worked because the film grossed over $240 million with only a $60,000 budget.
Those who are fans of The Blair Witch Project were happy to hear about the release of a sequel, entitled Blair Witch, to be directed by You’re Next director, Adam Wingard. Good luck finding anyone that is disappointed with that news. I was lucky enough to be invited to an advanced screening of the film. These are my thoughts.
Twenty years after Heather went missing, her brother James (James Allen McCune) stumbles upon a video on YouTube that was found in the same woods that Heather and her friends disappeared into. His friend Lisa (Callie Hernandez) has to make a video for her documentary class, so they decide the topic will be James searching for answers about his sister. Together with two other friends, James and Lisa head to Burkittsville, Maryland to meet up with the man who found the tape. They head into the woods, armed to the teeth with cameras, earpiece cameras, a camera drone, walkie-talkies and GPS in search of Heather. None of them go into the woods believing in The Blair Witch, but they are soon proven wrong when strange things start to happen.
Fifteen years ago, I curled up on a computer chair under a blanket with my best friend and proceeded to be scared out of my wits for the next hour and twenty minutes. Last night was just missing the chair and the blanket.
Blair Witch is the sequel we deserve. It stays true to the story, pays just enough homage while staying its own movie and is legitimately terrifying. Something I really loved about the film was that the group splits up at one point and later they come back together but have experienced two completely different hauntings from the witch. For one group, it has been a day. For the other, several. They are taunted and tortured differently, showing just how intensely cursed those woods really are.
My one, literally one, complaint about the film was that James has a different last name than Heather. As her brother, that really didn’t make any sense. Otherwise, I have nothing but good things to say. The direction was excellent, the acting was excellent, the scares were plentiful and, at times, shocking, and the new story with the updated technology was a huge plus. At no time did I feel like Blair Witch insulted the original film in any way, which is tough to say nowadays with all of the sequels and reboots being thrown out.
If you go see any horror film in the theater this year, Blair Witch is the one to see. I guarantee you will regret watching it at home for the first time. The atmosphere is half the experience. I promise you, it is worth the money.