When a movie becomes a huge success, Hollywood often likes to try and replicate that success by making a sequel. Sometimes that can launch a whole franchise and sometimes it can have an impact on the legacy of the original film.
Horror cinema was taken to a whole new sphere in 1999 when The Blair Witch Project came out of nowhere and singlehandedly ushered in the ‘found footage’ sub-genre. Many believed Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s $60,000 fright pic was real and the internet marketing campaign for the movie played this aspect up, propelling the film to almost $250 million at the worldwide box office. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 fizzled the following year garnering terrible reviews and grossing just $47 million worldwide (on a budget on $15 million). The franchise lay dormant for over fifteen years, until director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett decided to venture back into the woods with 2016’s Blair Witch.
James Allen McCune plays James Donahue, who goes in search of his sister Heather, one of the leads in the first film. He’s aided by three friends who once again attempt to film their adventure and hopefully uncover the mysteries lurking in Maryland’s Black Hills. Once again things go bump in the night and the team get more than they bargained for.
A sequel and pseudo-remake of the original film, Blair Witch updates the ‘found footage’ aspect with miniature head-mounted cameras and a drone. The drone adds some cinematic scope, while the miniature cameras mean the the oft-asked question of ‘why the hell are they still filming that?” becomes moot. However, these new bells and whistles don’t really bring anything new to the film which is effectively a rehash of the 1999 pic. Meanwhile, there’s a bit of additional gore this time around and the haunted house finale ups the scare show quality for those who want to be thrilled.
Blair Witch is a solid enough entry in the ever growing canon of ‘found footage’ horror. The film is good as far as it goes, but ultimately it fails to add anything to the narrative told in the first film. It’s not a bad effort, but you’d be better off checking out the 1999 film again.