TIFF 2016 Review: Blair Witch
The Blair Witch Project re-invented the horror film 16 years ago and was like nothing audiences had seen before. It did not look or feel like a standard movie and certainly wasn’t marketed as one. The long-awaited sequel (let’s all just forget the cash-grab sequel that followed the first film) occasionally feels like the original, but comes across as far more orchestrated. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett, the guys behind You’re Next and The Guest, remain faithful to the original – possibly to fault – but are admirably devoted to the Blair Witch mythology.
As is the case with many sequels, there is more of everything: technology, sounds, scares, and characters. The stakes though are somewhat less established than they should be and the mounting dread that defined the original is missing.
Blair Witch relies too heavily on jump scares and is more of a remake than a true sequel, but the directors do manage to generate some genuine fright. Fans of The Blair Witch Project will have plenty to gripe about, including some controversial decisions made by the filmmakers on what they do and do not show on camera. But overall, there is just enough here to please and the film succeeds at re-introducing the story of the Blair Witch to a new generation.
It will struggle with inevitable comparisons to the original, but Blair Witch is an effective installment in the long-dormant franchise. Based on box-office performance, there may be a third ill-fated trip into the woods before too long. It should be interesting to see how this sets up the next film and where the story can go next.