“Blair Witch,” directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett, takes up the Blair Witch story 16 years after the original film. James, an EMT, believes his sister Heather (of the first movie) might still be out in the Black Hills woods in Maryland. With life-long friend Peter, Peter’s girlfriend Ashley, and would-be love interest/documentary filmmaker Lisa, James sets off into the woods to find his long-lost sister.
Spurred by a YouTube video claiming to be additional footage from Heather’s doomed expedition, James meets Lane and Talia, locals from near the woods with an interest in the Blair Witch legends.
The six young people venture out and, as expected, things get crazy.
Part of the strength of the first film is in not knowing what is going on. While the plot relies on the same idea, it is harder to buy into because the average viewer is already in on the joke. Wingard and Barrett unfortunately follow too many of the story beats of their source material to give us anything original other than a fun time loop theory. The time loop does pay off in the end, but only if you are paying attention.
Even with its weaknesses, including an utter lack of character development, “Blair Witch” is still a satisfying experience. It feels more like a remake/reboot than a sequel and I fear Wingard and Barrett will be attached to similar projects (the pair are already committed to a remake of the Korean film “I Saw the Devil” and a live action version of the anime “Death Note”), instead of being allowed to be weird and creative. The two have proven they can be surprising with films such as “The Guest” and “You’re Next.” The pair also made my favorite entry in the “ABC’s of Death” series, “Q is for Quack.” Here they made a good movie that will likely put to rest any further entries in the franchise.
At the end of the night, “Blair Witch” is fun and not much more. It is a good start to the horror movie season but won’t resonate 20 years from now like “The Blair Witch Project” does now.