In 1999, The Blair Witch Project shook Hollywood to its very core, two young filmmakers managed to break new ground and breathe life into the found footage sub-genre. As well as breaking box office records, it was the first movie to realise the true potential of Internet marketing.
Like with most franchises that have a dud sequel, Blair Witch pretends Book of Shadows never happened and serves as a direct sequel to the original.
The new film focuses on James (James Allen McCune) who happens to be the younger brother of, Heather, who disappeared in the first film. James and his film student girlfriend Lisa (Callie Hernandez) find a video on the internet, which convinces James that even after twenty years, Heather may still be alive.
James decides that no matter how remote a chance, he has to take it. So he and Lisa, along with their friends Peter (Brandon Scott) and Ashley (Corbin Reid) head into the woods in Burkittsville, Maryland (formerly Blair), where they meet local odd-couple Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry), who posted the video online.
From there on in, the film is pretty much a rehash of all the things that made The Blair Witch Project so original. We get stick figures, piles of rocks, handprints and steady-cam POV footage of actors running through the woods, whilst screaming.
Back in ’99 this all felt fresh original, but now it’s been done to death. Apart from slightly expanding the mythology surrounding the stick figures, there’s nothing innovative here.
This feels less like a sequel and more like a modern day remake, the slow-burn of the original, along with rawness of the grainy footage has been replaced by quick glossy digital cuts. Nothing about this film feels found, it’s sleek and well-crafted, to maximise the profits from the YouTube generation.
The fact that James is Heather’s brother is entirely tangential and unnecessary.
I suppose in many ways, this film is poetic. The Blair Witch Project kick started the found footage sub-genre, it’s only fitting that Blair Witch is the final nail in its coffin.