Same but not quite the same
Showing my age here, but way back in 1999 The Blair Witch Project was one of the first films to scare me half to death and along with fellow found footage horror pioneer The Last Broadcast, started my ongoing love for the horror genre.
Unlike successful modern-day horror films, the original only spawned one sequel, a terrible one but until this year that was enough to put a stop to having a constant stream of gradually worsening films (looking at you Paranormal Activity). But in the age of remakes and reboots, it was only a matter of time before another Blair Witch reared its head again.
Just like it’s predecessor, the makers of Blair Witch decided to throw out the rule book when it comes to marketing, producing a bait and switch by starting out advertising the film as The Woods before surprising everyone with the news that rather than just another found footage film about teens going into the woods and dying, it is instead about a teenager dragging his friends into the woods to track down his long-lost sister, who disappeared 18 years ago looking for the Blair Witch.
Sounds rather basic when I say it like that, but the first wasn’t exactly a complicated plot line and some of the best genre films are pretty simplistic, now I’m not saying that this is an instant classic, but clearly the makers have used the 18 year gap to think of a plot that makes sense and produced a film that tells that story well. (once again take note makers of Paranormal Activity films). However a good plot and reasonable acting will only get you so far when it comes to horror, it most importantly has to be scary and boy does this film scare.
The important thing about the first film was that less is more, with this film taking that and building on it, using a lot of the originals plot points and lore to set up the story, before delving deeper into the world of the Blair Witch and expanding our knowledge of that pesky witch. All of which slowly builds towards a truly harrowing final ten minutes of non-stop terror.
The film however isn’t without its faults, such the under utilization of some of the new technology such as drones and remote cams, both feeling like a missed opportunity to show more than a couple of aerial or background shots, but by far the biggest gripe I have with the film is the introduction of jump scares throughout, with each one breaking up the growing tension and not only feeling like a cheap attempt to scare but also feeling a little unbelievable, with characters randomly jumping out from all over the place, sadly this is something that seems to take place in most films these days and doesn’t ruin the film too much.
As long as you like the first film then this film is perfect if you want to watch something scary for Halloween, but if the original wasn’t your cuppa tea then chances are that this one won’t be either.