Blair Witch: Triple Feature Special

Friday, October 20, 2017

image showing the logo of the Blair Witch Franchise

This special may contain spoilers. You have been warned.

The Blair Witch Project, released in the summer of 1999, would significantly impact how movies are filmed and promoted. Since its release, the found-footage style has become popular in the horror and sci-fi genres. The deceptive marketing of films being true or based on true events (even if they were not) would also go on to be used by other famous films (ex., Paranormal Activity). While most of us laugh at how dramatic The Blair Witch Project is, there is no way you can deny how important it has proven itself to be in the movie industry. 

image showing the characters of Blair Witch in a Missing poster
Many went into this film thinking it was a genuine documentary.

A sequel would quickly be put together after the unexpected success of BWP. Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows would be released a little over a year later, in 2000. Lacking everything that made the original great and plagued with horrible acting and a predictable, uninteresting storyline, Book of Shadows is both a total failure and a total bore-fest. 

image showing characters from Blair Witch 2
So much cringe.

A decade and a half later, amid a movie industry that seems completely drained of new, original ideas, 2016's Blair Witch would attempt to do what its predecessor could not. It manages to be better than Book of Shadows, but considering how bad Blair Witch 2 is, that really isn't much of a compliment. The majority of the film, like the original, is spent trying to build up a mood of desperation and absolute terror. Unfortunately, it fails in its efforts to do this and wastes a little over an hour of your time with boring and stereotypical horror tropes. It picks up a little near the end, but nothing that happens is new and leaves you wondering if Blair Witch was instead trying to be a modern remake instead of a sequel.

image showing a character from the 2016 Blair Witch with a figure in the background
The best part of the 2016 version, without a doubt.

A good part of what made The Blair Witch Project good was how realistic it was filmed (shakiness, blurry, etc..) and the effective, and once again realistic, usage of sound effects. The woods sounded like the woods, and it looked like it was filmed by an amateur. Unfortunately, none of this made it into either of the sequels, and if someone decided to try again, they definitely need to keep these aspects in mind.

Ratings and Info (clicking on the film title will take you to a movie trailer):

The Blair Witch Project (1999) - ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 7.5/10

Rating: R
Runtime: 1 hour 21 minutes
Genre(s): Horror, Mystery, Found Footage
Released: July 30, 1999
Directed by: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez
Written by: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez, Heather Donahue (documentary material)
Starring: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) - ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 2/10

Rating: R
Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes
Genre(s): Horror, Fantasy
Released: October 27, 2000
Directed by: Joe Berlinger
Written by: Dick Beebe, Joe Berlinger, Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick
Starring: Jeffrey Donovan, Stephen Barker Turner, Erica Leerhsen

Blair Witch (2016) - ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 5/10

Rating: R
Runtime: 1 hour 26 minutes
Genre(s): Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Found Footage
Released: September 16, 2016
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry

Should you watch them?

The Blair Witch Project should be considered mandatory for anyone who considers themselves a fan of horror. Skip the sequel, though. It is awful. As for the 2016 Blair Witch, I think it is decent enough to recommend; just don't expect it to be as good as the original.

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