As I currently write this section of my review, I have actually not seen THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999). I know it exists, and I know that it was a pop culture phenomenon in the horror-lovers’ community as one of the scariest movies of all time. However, that’s as far as my knowledge goes. I think I saw maybe the first ten minutes of it and changed the channel, bored out of my mind. But that was ages ago. Fast-forward to today, I’ve seen Youtube’s Nostalgia Critic’s review of the film’s sequel THE BOOK OF SHADOWS (2000) and continues to be one my favorite reviews by him.
Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKv3QuSLebA
But I gotta say… meh, to this one. I’m sure it’s leagues better than the second installment that nobody saw, but I can’t help but look at this and think that it’s nothing special. There might be some clever ideas, but they’re keeping it out of the marketing pretty effectively. Curious…
So let’s look at the cast. The central actor is James Allen McCune. He’s been in very little bit projects, but it’s worth noting that he has had a small part in SNITCH (2013) and been in quite a few episodes of THE WALKING DEAD. Alongside him will be Callie Hernandez. She’s also only had small parts in movies like MACHETE KILLS (2013) and SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (2014), but keep an eye out for her in the upcoming films LA LA LAND (2016) and ALIEN: COVENANT (2017). Everyone else is also an unknown actor, but the more recognized might be Valorie Curry, who’s been in quite a few TV shows over the years, like VERONICA MARS, THE FOLLOWING, and HOUSE OF LIES.
Now for the crew. Directing is Adam Wingard and writing is Simon Barrett, who have pretty much worked exclusively together over the years. Wingard is a veteran director of many horror-thriller type movies, but the only one I think anyone would have heard of would be YOU’RE NEXT (2011) or THE GUEST (2014). I think I remember the posters, but not the name or anyone who’s in them. But for you anime fans out there, Wingard is attached to the direct next year’s film, DEATH NOTE (2017). Barrett has pretty much the same credentials, but personal fun-fact, if anyone frequents the SyFy channel and indulges in their intentionally hilariously awful movies, he wrote one of my personal favorites, FRANKENFISH (2004). As for the composer, it’s…. Wingard?! Seriously, the director of the movie also did the music? Well… give ’em an “A” for doing what I’ve never heard of. This… yeah, will be his debut as a composer… … … Really? This movie has a score? Finally, the director of photography is Robby Baumgartner. He’s primarily known for handling cameras himself, but he’s worked with Wingard before on THE GUEST as the D.O.P.
Never mind that it’s a horror film, which I’m programmed to hate upon arrival, but it doesn’t look scary, creative, or in any way worth effort. But… I’m not paying for it, so this is my honest opinion of BLAIR WITCH.
It’s been over a decade since James’ (James Allen McCune) older sister Heather disappeared in Burkittsville, Maryland in 1999. However, James discovers the tape that was used to document their findings in the forest online and tracks down the guy who found it. Documenting the trip is Lisa (Callie Hernandez) for a school project. The two are joined by James’ long time friend Peter (Brandon Scott) and his girlfriend Ashley (Corbin Reid). They arrive and talk to Lane (Wes Robinson) and his friend Talia (Valorie Curry), who found Heather’s tape and put it up online. They promise to lead James to where the tape was found and set off on the way. They stay over night, and immediately strange things start to happen, beginning with stick-figure ornaments being hung around the camp site. Deciding to ditch this adventure, they attempt to leave. But the forest seemingly has no end, they get separated, and wind up back at the camp site. So begins a terrifying realization that the myths surrounding the Blair Witch and the forest may not be entirely mythic as one by one, they’re killed off or driven insane.
Okay, to any one who’s claimed that this was one of the scariest movies, please enlighten me… what movie were you watching? Because I want to see that one. Clearly you weren’t watching BLAIR WITCH because this movie had zero legit scares. I’m no writer of horror films, guys. But I like to think I know what it takes to make a scary movie. Night time, quiet, hysterically weepy scaredy cats, and cheap jump scares don’t automatically make a scary movie. So piss off with that shit, watch THE SHALLOWS (2016) or THE CONJURING (2013) and take some fucking notes.
First off, I think I’m going to come right out and say that this review will be marinated in SPOILERS, as every single problem I have stems from the reveals. So if you’re one of the weirdos that’s actually taking this shit seriously, like BLAIR WITCH is the greatest thing to happen to horror cinemas since… I don’t know, I don’t like horror movies, insert your own analogy here, then I wouldn’t read further. You’ve been fairly warned.
Wanna know what the Blair Witch is? It’s the [REC] (2007) monster. It’s the zombie things from I AM LEGEND (2007). It’s Gollum from Lord of the Rings. It’s Supreme Leader Snoak from STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015). It’s a tall, inhumanly skinny, naked bitch.
So the first problem I have it the first big “scare” when everyone wakes up from that first night and sees all the stick figures around. Okay, it’s later revealed that it’s all a hoax from Lane and Talia… so when they get reunited at the camp site, why are the stick figures suddenly voodoo enchanted?! Why would the Blair Witch care about that? We later realize that she can kill people with her bare hands, or whatever, but we’ll get to that, so why is there a need to “enchant” the stick figures?
Second, what’s with the time lapsing? Yeah, why have Lane and Talia been stuck in the forest for five days, but James and the others only for a few hours? And… why are they still meeting up, and… jesus fuck I’m pretty sure Star Trek had it’s time travel shit down better than this. And why is this a thing that the Blair Witch can do? How does this inspire scares? If anything, it’s just annoying. And five days of this shit and they’re still freaking out like bitches? You’d think in that time, they’d not only have grown accustomed to the weird shit, but thrived in it or fully succumbed to the Witch’s snare or whatever.
Like I said, I never saw the original movie. But I know the ending is basically just a dude staring into a corner and the movie ends with the camera person getting axed off. A possible explanation for that is that this person figured out that the same thing James did (somehow): that the Blair Witch can only hurt you if you look directly at it. Um… okay then explain Peter. And even if you wanted to argue that Peter did look directly at the Witch, then explain this…. why can the Witch only hurt people when they look directly at her? Why is this a rule against her? She literally can’t physically reach out and just yoink these idiots to their dooms? That’s a stupid restriction.
To make matters even sillier, she bypasses this restriction by mimicking the voices of the deceased loved ones, which only the targeted loved one can hear, by the way, making them turn around to die. In the very moment this is happening, it’s painfully obvious that the witch is doing this. But, nope, horror movie cliché number one: stupid people. James turns around as if he’s actually going to see his sister, and gets yoinked by the witch. What a shock! Oh, but it gets better. As Lisa is backing up, outsmarting the witch, what happens? The witch mimics James’ voice. What does she do? Is she smart and figures out that the witch is baiting her to turn around? BUAHAHAHAHAHA, you give modern horror writing too much credit. No, like the fucking twat that she is, she turns right around and gets yoinked to her doom. As if on fucking cue! But wait, it gets even better! The camera actually picks up on the fake James voice… for some reason. Somehow, the camera can’t pick up the obvious fake Heather voice that James is hearing, but the fake James voice? Pfft! Child’s play, mother fucker! Yeah, chew on that bullshit for awhile and if you come up with any theories to make sense of this, pass them along to future horror movie-makers so they can learn how to be not be such fuck-ups.
What’s sad is that there is an idea here that someone more talented can work with here. If it were me, I would have the movie take place in the house, or something. None of this bullshit build-up to finding the house. The protagonists would explore the house and read books, journals, diaries, documents of some kind that shed light on who the Blair Witch was, therefore making the thing an actual character, instead of a generic monster. Something to make us sympathize, or help us understand why she wants to kill everyone that comes into her forest. Maybe even inform us on what her powers are. What are the limits to her powers? Why doesn’t she venture into society? How do so many people encounter the witch, but literally no one makes it out alive? There, I already planted the seeds of a better movie right here. I’d write it myself, but in my hands, it’d be about a character who’s so annoyed with the witch that he or she would be sassing the witch to shut her ugly whore mouth and go fuck a tree like a dildo. Lord knows she needs something shoved up that cooch. That’d probably calm her down.
Ugh, I need a drink and there’s a bottle of plum wine in my fridge screaming my name. I’m getting so sick of these horror films and their lazy writing. Earlier, I said that this movie should take notes on better horror films. But not that I’m thinking about it, do you want to see a Blair Witch movie that does it better than the Blair Witch movies? THE WITCH (2016)!!! (Oh! Oh! Someone make a MONTY PYTHON reference! Quick!) It’s got wonderful characters, significantly more impressively made, terrific acting, zero jump scares in lieu of disturbing thoughts and imagery, challenging themes, and above all else, is a damn good flick. Who the fuck cares about this one? I don’t know if the original is any better, but I can’t imagine it was nearly as bad as this. I’m almost wondering if this is worse than the second one. At least the second is so stupid and silly that it’s laughably ridiculous, therefore entertaining, but this one is dead boring, uninteresting, and utterly forgettable.
My honest rating for BLAIR WITCH: 1/5
PS: Fan theorists… make a ridiculous connection between THE WITCH and the Blair Witch movies. The internet needs a good laugh.
- BRIDGET JONES’S BABY
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJsvmscPY9w