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Blair Witch is a sequel, of sorts, to the 1999 low budget classic The Blair Witch Project. There was a Blair Witch sequel, Book of Shadows, released a year later, had very little to do with the first movie and was released to critical panning and low box-office returns. Directed by You’re Next and The Guest director, Adam Wingard, this particular Blair Witch can actually be considered a true sequel. Or a reboot. Which leads to the first flaw, it really does not know what it wants to be.
Jack (James Allen McCune) decides to look for his sister, Heather, who disappeared while filming in the demonic woods 16 years earlier. He is sent some footage from some town locals that convinces him that his sister may still be alive. Heather, famously played by Heather Donahue, is the camera woman whose footage was discovered that was the subject of the first film. Jack, and his friends, Ashley (Corbin Reid), Brandon Scott (Peter), and Lisa (Callie Hernandez) set out to further investigate the source of this footage which includes meeting the filmmakers, Lane and Talia, (Wes Robinson and Valorie Curry), and big surprise, they seem suspicious.
After this the Blair Witch becomes a remake of the Blair Witch Project. A couple of the characters are a little more insufferable, but some of the setups are exactly the same. Included here are a comical amount of jump scares, so much so that one of the characters comments on it. While watching this second act, I really thought I was in for an almost shot by shot remake of the first film.
Where this film shines brightly, is the last 15 -20 minutes, where it becomes legitimately scary. So scary in fact, I am tempted to think that the first 70 minutes of this film is basically a satire of other horror movies. Wingard is no stranger to satire, being that there is no shortage of it in his previous films You’re Next, the Guest, and VHS, so I don’t think the 1st and 2nd acts of this film were intended to be serious. Based on their previous outings, I do not believe that writer as well as frequent Wingard collaborator, Simon Barrett, had the intention to make the Blair Witch sequel your stereotypical horror film, complete with obviously sketchy characters, unnecessary jump scares, and super familiar plot tropes. But I believe all of these elements were put into place to give a bigger impact for that unexpected third act.
If this is the case, Blair Witch works. The entire point of a horror movie is to scare you, which it does. And after analyzing the movie as a whole, it entertains you as well. Many horror movies as of late follow this formula of a slow burn (The Forest, The Boy, Morgan) but very few have an ending that truly satisfies the beginning. Blair Witch does.
What doesn’t work about the Blair Witch…is the Blair Witch. When watching this film, you can see a script for a very effective horror movie, which would have worked just fine without the Blair Witch sequel elements. It made the characters as well as the plot go in directions that it did not have to take if they had not been looking for this infamous figure. It kind of dragged the movie down. Blair Witch as a whole is a decent sequel, but could have been a good horror movie.