When a bunch of teens headed to the forest 15 years ago for with a DV camcorder for a documentary witch hunt, filming the action with their scared, shaky hands, I was not cinematographically impressed nor shocked. In short, I thought that director Daniel Myrick’s and Eduardo Sánchez’s The Blair Witch Project (1999) sucked.
Now in 2016, while living the age of shaky mobile videos, such footage on the big screen, when done right, is sometimes acceptable.
In the real sequel, Blair Witch, it’s done right. (The cash-grab made in 2000 ‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’ is too bad to count and the current film ignores it completely.)
After you grow accustomed to the ear-cam and amateur style filming, the film pulls you into the world of James (James Allen McCune), Peter (Brandon Scott), Ashley (Corbin Reid) and Lisa (Callie Hernandez) – a group of young adults – who plunge into Maryland’s Black Hills forest in search for James’s sister, Heather, the lost documentarian from the prequel. James believes he saw Heather in the footage he found in a YouTube video. The group equips themselves with DSLR’s, drones and GPS trackers in an attempt to document their search.
When the darkness falls, the trip turns into one of the year’s biggest scaremongers.
Director Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way To Die 2010), You’re Next (2011) shot the film in only 35 days, keeping the cast constantly jolted with air horns that he’d fire off at unpredictable times. The trick seems to have worked as the cast looks genuinely shocked when they are supposed to.
With the help of screenwriter Simon Barrett, Wingard plays with your natural fears of feeling lost, shocked and crammed into tight places in such extent that you are likely to twist and turn in your seat while your heart beats 120 times per minute.
But that’s what a real scaremonger is supposed to do, right?
Blair Witch premieres in cinemas September 16.