For me the hype/curiosity all started while hanging out with my best friend(also a fellow movie buff). We were at his house one day and he asked me if I had heard of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT? No, I said. What's the Blair Witch? Almost immediately we went to his computer and checked out the website. My friend read me the legend and showed me the video clips. And went on and on how the kids filming a documentary went missing. I found the whole thing creepy and convinced it was real.
Then a few weeks later a special aired on the Sci-Fi Channel and their was something about it that made the whole THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT found film seem very fake. But I still wanted to believe. Then days leading up to the theatrical release MTV News broke the story that the film was indeed fake. My friend and I were crushed. But deep down we knew all along the film wasn't real.
When THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT came out it was an instant blockbuster smash hit! It became (and still is I think) the most successful independent film of all time. All because of a clever marketing campaign. Was it fake or real? That was the conversations happening in theater lobbies across the nation. Very quickly however, came the backlash.
Some theater goers hated the found-footage style of the film, and could not see beyond a 87 minute movie of people lost and screaming in the woods.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was definitely not a movie for everybody. In my opinion for the film to work, the viewer really has to be in the mind set that the woods are haunted and cursed. This suspension of disbelief is key, without it you're likely to find the movie boring and stupid.
After the success of the movie, Hollywood rushed a sequel into production. It bombed. I haven't seen BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2, but after hearing some people talk about it I may check it out. There were talks of a third Blair Witch movie but after the poor box office of the sequel, those plans were quickly scraped.
So the Blair Witch “franchise” died off, but the found-footage horror sub-genre lived on. I don't know how long Lionsgate has been wanting to relaunch the Blair Witch films? But I'm going to take an educated guess and say they wanted to bring the franchise back to life after the success of PARAMORMAL ACTIVITY.
It took 17 years for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT to get the sequel fans deserve. And what better team to bring it than director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett. I have been a fan of these filmmakers since their contribution to V/H/S. And after seeing their film YOU'RE NEXT I became a fan for life.
Adam and Simon's new film was going to be a horror film called THE WOODS. Cool, of course I'll see it. I couldn't wait!
They showed THE WOODS at this years San Diego Comic Con. But what the audience saw that day was BLAIR WITCH, a true blue direct sequel to THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. The geek community went nuts. And of course I was excited but also a tad discouraged my two new favorite filmmakers were not making something original.
BLAIR WITCH takes place 17 years after the events depicted in the original film. After discovering some video footage of what appears to be his sisters experiences in the haunted woods of the Blair Witch, James and a group of friends head to the forest in search of his lost sibling.
My first impressions of BLAIR WITCH were not that great. I left the theater thinking it was just okay. Don't get me wrong, I thought the film was very effective and scary. The sour taste in my mouth was that the movie had too many similar moments from the original. Which automatically makes it one of those remake/sequel things. And they added jump scares this time, which the original had none.
But after mulling it over in my head for about 48 hours, I love the film the more I think about it. Because just like with THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT you have to be in the mind set that getting lost in a haunted forest is some scary shit! And BLAIR WITCH builds on this mythology perfectly!
The main thing I kept thinking about was how much I loved the haunted forest. The filmmakers still follow the less-is-more aspect of the original, but also add a little to the legend. In THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT it's implied that the three teens get lost because the witch is messing with them. In the new film they add the aspect that if you stay in the woods overnight, that's when the Blair Witch curses you.
I love stuff like that! Adding to the mythology of the story without heavy handedness.
And lastly, the film was just down right scary! There is a thunderstorm at the end of the film and the lightning shining through the boarded up windows of the decrepit old house was absolutely terrifying. And yes, we are shown the Blair Witch this time. It seems like something unnecessary, but it's appearance is brief if not subliminal and maybe out of this world. And I found that very cool.
If I had to pick somethings that I didn't like about the movie I'd say that the jump scares could have been left out of the movie. Probably a studio mandated thing? And the film has a antagonist that I found really pointless. I don't know if the point of that character was to make you think the curse and Blair Witch doesn't exist and that crazy townsfolk cultists are behind it all?
My final thoughts are that I highly recommend BLAIR WITCH. It is a good worthy sequel done with love and respect for the original film.