Movie Review: Blair Witch a.k.a. The Woods
It was perhaps a pleasant surprise to the fans when The Woods (fake title) was revealed to be a direct sequel to the 1999 found footage horror Blair Witch Project that ignores the previous instalment Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000). Unfortunately, even with 80 times the budget and all the technological advancements today, this sequel turns out to be pretty much the worse version of the same thing.
Directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest, V/H/S) and written by Simon Barrett (The Guest, V/H/S), the film is done full found footage-style with multiple camera point of views (POV) like in the Paranormal Activity films. The story takes place over two decades after the recordings of the Blair Witch Project were found. James Donahue (James Allen McCune) decides to visit the Black Hills Forest to seek for closure for his missing sister, Heather (one of the three characters in the original film). Along with his company of close friends, they venture into the woods with a local couple to show them the way and strange things that they should've expected begin to happen.
That's the stupid thing about these characters. They saw the Blair Witch Project, they know the legend, and yet they don't fully prepare themselves for what may happen apart from equipping themselves with GPS, drone and a lot of cameras. Even James, the missing Heather's very own brother, doesn't take it seriously and laughs off about the legend. The characters are more diverse but they're like typical horror stock characters — good looking and unrealistically dumb. They do things that you and I wouldn't do in such situations. There's a black guy so you know who's most likely going to go first.
The original film is a classic because it feels real and it gets intense due to hysteria while blurring the line between supernatural and psychological, with far superior acting performances. This sequel, however, relies a lot on extremely loud and cheap jump scares and predictable cliches. It also straight-up answers that the incidents are supernatural instead of making good use of the suspicious local and it doesn't do enough with its new twist.
There's a scene where there are back-to-back jump scares of terrified characters sneaking up to the POV without a sound of footsteps and just screaming right at the camera. Is this good quality of horror? Not to me. Blair Witch simply lacks of genuine innovation and adds nothing new to the genre.
Malaysian censorship: There are a couple of graphic shots and some F-bombs but none of that were censored at the press screening.
Verdict: If you hate cheap jump scares, you'd likely despise this film as much as I did.
Rating: 2 / 5
Genre: Found footage horror
Running Time: 90 minutes
Director: Adam Wingard
Screenwriter: Simon Barrett
Cast: Callie Hernandez, James Allen McCune, Brandon Scott
Malaysia Release Date: 15 September 2016
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Room 101, Snoot Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment
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