By Christian DiMartino
“Give up this dream! You’re never gonna make it!” – Edith Cox, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
That line was lingering in the mind pretty much throughout Blair Witch, yet another long-delayed sequel that none of us were clamoring for.We know that, with this kind of film, if you’re in it, you’re probably doomed. How do I know that? Oh, I don’t know. It’s just right in front of our faces.
As you might have read yesterday, I thought The Blair Witch Project was excellent. An ingenious use of a gimmick that has since been overused. Now 17 years later we have this film and… it turns out that there isn’t much new ground to explore in the woods.
Had I never seen The Blair Witch Project or any other found footage film, I might’ve bought into Blair Witch. But it doesn’t offer many new ideas. We do get a glimpse of the witch this time and it does explore more of that spooky ass house. But in terms of story, in terms of scares, in terms of characters… it’s the same thing.
The plot alone is a true indicator of what a sequel this is. The brother of Heather from the first film sees some footage on YouTube, and is convinced that maybe, just maybe, his sister is still out there. After 17 years? Uhh… Yeah I’m not so sure about that. But we’ll go along with ya. So, he gathers up some friends and they set off into the woods in search of his sister, and unless you’re deaf dumb and blind, you can assume that chaos ensues.
The set-up of Blair Witch is decent enough. In fact, I was actually kind of enjoying it for a bit. Director Adam Wingard must’ve taken some good notes from its predecessor, because some of it is fairly creepy. But he must’ve also taken too many notes, because in terms of structure, this is the exact same film. Though this one is a little more overblown that that one, and there lies the problem.
What worked so well about that film was its slow burn. It wasn’t a film that relied on jump scares. It was a quietly haunting film that just sorta sneaks up on you. This film has some of that, but I swear, you could make a drinking game out of the amount of times people pop out of nowhere in an attempt to frighten. Unfortunately, that’s the way pretty much every found footage film since has turned out.
Some of Blair Witch also feels either overdeveloped or underdeveloped. For example, this one girl keeps getting her legs injured. One would thing that mysterious forces are at play. But that is never elaborated. And what’s stranger is that despite her injuries, she eventually manages to climb up a tree without much struggle. Could they not keep up with themselves?
I was entertained by Blair Witch. I was occasionally creeped out by Blair Witch. The performances are good enough. I always curious to see just where it was going. But in the end, it can never find its way out of familiar territory.