Scene: 1999 Century Theaters in Pinole, CA. A young impressionable young man was on his way back to the bathroom to see his screening of The Iron Giant. However, the screening was sharing a marquee with another film and in his haste to return, he actually stumbled into another movie. That young man was me and the film was The Blair Witch Project, the massive cultural and box office hit. The reason I bring this story up is that when I heard they were making a sequel, Blair Witch, I got super excited. After all, the 5 minutes I was in that Blair Witch project screening really made me get interested in horror, more so than I already was. I decided to not watch any trailers, read any reviews, and even blocked it on Twitter to build up maximum excitement. And thank god, because Blair Witch was a fantastic movie and such a wonderful experience.
Blair Witch, this new film, chronicles what happens when four friends James Donahue (James Allen McCune), Lisa Arlington (Callie Hernandez), Ashley Bennett (Corbin Reid) and Peter Jones (Brandon Scott) decide to go into the woods to locate James’ sister Heather after footage of someone who’s possibly Heather on Youtube. Naturally, Lisa is documenting the journey as part of a project and gives the team a fleet of awesome recording devices. However, it doesn’t help them much once whatever is in the woods sets its sights on them and the group has to fight for their lives.
What makes Blair Witch such a good movie is that it feels cut from the same cloth that made the original successful, but is tweaked in the right places. Adam Wingard holds you hostage as he directs the movie with an immediacy that fits the found footage style but also uses the tools and techniques of traditional horror to up the scare factor. There are so many moments where you think you know what’s happening but Wingard will hold for a beat longer or have the characters stay in a space to unsettle you. The sound design of the film also aids in this, allowing us and the characters to have the movie play tricks on our psyche. All of this draws you in and by the time you see the first tree branch symbol, you’re already too late. But less than just watching people die, this movie gives you protagonists that make dumb decisions, but wonderfully so. The MVP of this film is Callie Hernandez, who gets to flex some scream queen chops and physicality.
Not going to say anything more cause you just need to experience it for yourself.