In 1999 The Blair Witch Project provided a unique experience for horror fans by using “found footage” as a device to throw audiences into the perspective of the main characters. It was a unique experience for cinema-goers, and one that has since been replicated countless times within the genre – some successfully and others not so much.
The latest to pay homage to the 1999 hit comes from writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest), and is the follow-up fans should have gotten instead of 2000’s Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, which failed to impress fans.
Sticking with the main plot points of the original, Blair Witch follows a group of college students who venture into the Black Hills Forest to find answers on the disappearance of Heather and her friends (who met grizzly ends in the first film).
There was certainly little effort made here to take a different route than The Blair Witch Project, but for me that was ok. While it certainly would have been a pleasant surprise to see things play out differently to what we’ve already seen, there was no part of me that wasn’t scared shitless the entire time (if you ask my friend who sat next to me, I was pinching or slapping his arm most of the time in anticipation – sorry Zach).
Barrett laced his script with plenty of creepy moments and jump scares, and Wingard keeps the suspense alive as each one of our heroes is slowly but surely targeted. James Allen McCune, who plays Heather’s brother James Donahue, does a great job at creating empathy for this character, and also thrives during the few comedic moments.
Wingard has created a genuinely frightening experience with Blair Witch, and though it might not have the lasting impact of his previous works, it’ll certainly make fans jump.