The first Blair Witch film, “The Blair Witch Project,” set a new precedent for horror/thriller films. It’s low budget and handicam work made the film seem like it could have been real found footage. Seventeen years later, “Blair Witch” was released as the sequel to the iconic first film. It’s difficult to live up to the hype that surrounded “The Blair Witch Project,” so does “Blair Witch” meet expectations? With its casting choices, modern handicam work, and intrigue, it has the potential.
One of the aspects of the first film that make it so believable is the (then) unknown cast. When perusing IMDB, you can see that a lot of the actors had never had a role before starring in “The Blair Witch Project.” Unlike its predecessor, “Blair Witch” has a cast that has already had a foothold in various projects in Hollywood. For some, separating an actor from their previous roles can prove difficult, especially when watching a horror film; it can make it less believable. With the legend of the Blair Witch, believability is key. Luckily for me, I’d never seen any of these actors in their previous works, so I was able to retain the unknown factor that some may not. Regardless, I think the casting call should have been for actors with little to no experience to retain that realistic feel.
I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it was always rumored by my eighth-grade counter parts that they gave you vomit bags at showing of “The Blair Witch Project.” The amateur camerawork meant a lot of movement and shakiness that definitely could have induced vomiting in the weak-stomached. However, “Blair Witch” did not even come close to achieving such stomach-churning visuals. There are few times during the film that the audience is taken for a ride, and even then its really just more confusing than sickening. In fact, the lack of roller coaster-esque handicam work makes the film rather boring.
The first half of the film is mostly just the characters talking or walking. Despite having some pretty cool tech with them to capture what is happening, the camerawork doesn’t get your adrenaline going until the very close of the film when the action really picks up. Luckily, when seemingly creepy moments occur, the absence of seeing the culprit lets the creepiness set in a bit. Despite the creep factor, the handicam work is still not good enough to elicit fear in the audience.
(I normally wouldn’t want to give such an important part of the film away in a review, but it’s too important not to discuss. Skip the proceeding paragraph if you don’t want know what happens.)
As I mentioned, not seeing the Blair Witch is part of what keeps the movie creepy. To be honest, had they never shown the Blair Witch at all, the movie might have been able to redeem itself somewhat. However, the filmmakers decided that not only should we see her, but we should see what I deem to be a CG mess. There was no reason at all to reveal her to the audience. By keeping her a mystery, or possibly even nonexistent, the audience would have been afforded the opportunity to imagine her in whatever way they wished. Also, not revealing her could have also elicited the opportunity to imagine that she was non-existent, meaning that the events could have all been in the character’s heads, giving it a psychological thriller feel. But no, they passed up those opportunities to subject the audience to a terrible CG job. Needless to say, a poor choice was made.
*End of spoilers*
The last thing I’ll touch on is the script itself. To put it bluntly, the film was boring. There was far too much time spent with little to no action. Also, we don’t even learn the characters’ names until so far into the film that it becomes useless to have learned them at all. The addition of the two strangers should have been welcoming to the storyline, but instead resulted in clunky dialogue and little believability that they could just be tricking the original group. In fact, they just seemed to hold the other characters back from achieving their goal and were somewhat forgettable once they separate from the group as a whole.
All in all, “Blair Witch” met virtually no expectations — it was not scary, impactful, or game-changing in any way. In fact, aside from the few creepy moments scattered in the back half of the film, it’s quite disappointing for a horror film, almost laughable even. It is very possible that the first film in the series set an unmatchable precedent, but honestly, I think it was just a bad film. The Blair Witch should have been left alone in her woods so the second installment wouldn’t tarnish the reputation of the first.