Blair Witch (2016)

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Jamie Wong  

Staff Writer, Lake Worth Campus 

      As far as found footage films go, Blair Witch is on the ball with its camera work. This reboot to The Blair Witch Project of 1999 tries to capitalize on the success of its predecessor so much that it’s almost as if nothing is left to surprise. What next? Another jump scare? The only question remaining is, should audiences settle down to watch ninety minutes of this admittedly tame sequel or skip it entirely? Read the following points and decide for yourself. 

     First off, found footage is a term used to describe movies filmed as though the scenes were uncovered through video recordings. More often than not, one or more of the characters is a film student or has chosen to document the events for private reasons. Prepare yourself for some shaky camera work and video quality that changes throughout the film as different devices are used – from expensive camcorders, CCTV videos to mobile phones. While this may annoy some viewers as the scene changes abruptly and allows for only a small field of vision, it also adds to the plausibility of the movie by giving it a greater sense of “realness.” This medium provides many opportunities for jump scares which the Blair Witch may have utilized a little too much.  

     As a sequel to the very popular 1999 movie, this installment was looked forward to with much anticipation. Without revealing too many details, it centers on the brother of Heather Donahue who has been fixated on his sister’s disappearance after she went missing in the Black Hills forest. Without any hard evidence, all signs point to the local legend being the culprit – a malevolent being called the Blair Witch. When James Donahue finds a video online of what looks like his sister’s final moments, he and some close friends decide to see for themselves if the legend of the Blair Witch is true. A solid follow-up to the 1999 cult hit but almost no points for originality.  

     This new addition to the Blair Witch series follows almost the exact same plot line as the original, with decidedly less imagination and a much higher production budget. Fans who are looking for a movie that comes close to a remake will find themselves somewhat satisfied but anyone who was hoping for even a modicum of creativity will be sorely disappointed. The film capitalizes on a fear of the unknown and sudden loud noises to scare the audience. Unfortunately, it may be taking it too far by including some scenes that are just utterly confusing and essentially nausea inducing. 

     Blair Witch might have performed better if audiences did not have such a highly ranked original to compare it to. As of now, it is performing quite badly with a 40% tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes and only a 5.8 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database website (IMDb). While these ratings might seem like only a small decrease from The Blair Witch Project’s 6.4 on IMDb, its predecessor definitely outshone this modern follow-up on Rotten Tomatoes with an 86% favorable appraisal.  The first movie was meant to be headed straight to television and never see the light of the box office – maybe that’s where this sequel was meant to be.