Hypothetical Netflix rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Although I wasn’t one of those people who gave Adam Wingard’s new movie Blair Witch more than $9 million in week-end box-office revenue, I did pay to see it. I caught the hype train pretty early on this one, having seen the fake trailer for The Woods earlier in the year and thinking to myself “what a new and interesting idea”, just to be reminded months later that The Blair Witch Project did it a generation ago.
I decided to give this new take the benefit of the doubt, having seen You’re Next, directed by Wingard and penned by Simon Barrett (who also wrote Blair Witch and who I admire for his love of grammar). Words cannot express how much I admired these guys after seeing You’re Next. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself the favor. Plus, it’d be cheaper than a ticket to Blair Witch.
From the moment it started, I could tell that I was in for just some more of the same. Same first person shaky cam. Same group of whiny college students getting lost in the woods while making a documentary. Though to the filmmakers credit, you can see glimpses of where they tried to stray from the formula the original created.
The plot centers around generic guy-you-know-is-going-to-make-it-to-the-last-scene, James, played by James Allen McCune, who has been looking for his sister Heather, who you may or may not remember being in the original. With the help of survival girl/documentary student Lisa, Callie Hernandez, the two, along with their cannon fodder friends go in search of James’ sister. Along the way, the group teams up with a pair of Burkittsville locals who agree to guide them through the woods. Things don’t go well from there.
My biggest complaint with found footage films across the broad is camera movement. I mean that in a couple of ways. One, people start running, everything goes shaky and I’m officially paying to watch blurs. Two, the way in which the actors are supposedly holding the cameras doesn’t line up with how the scene is framed. I’m talking about movies like District 9 where they drop the found footage angle after the first ACT. I didn’t notice the second problem once during Blair Witch. They were actually pretty creative with their first person camera usage. Almost everyone had an over the ear camera, and they used a drone which was kinda cool because it wasn’t just like, “Oh we have this drone,” they actually worked it into the story. Having said that, it was still shaky at parts which, yeah, not a fan of.
Did this movie wow me? No. Did I hate it? Not entirely. Would I watch it again? I would love to heckle it sometime.
Oh. Yeah. If you don’t like spoilers, stop reading. I’ll write some filler here to give your cheating eyes some breather room. You get to see the actual Blair Witch. She is a physical character in the movie and doesn’t not look like what you’d think. Also, there’s time travel involved for some reason? It seems to me that Simon Barrett had a really cool idea for a movie set in the woods and he worked it into Blair Witch, but it doesn’t play well. At all. I heard some woman in the back of the theater say “I paid money for that?” when it was over, which is never a good sign.