Director Adam Wingard reboots the long-dormant scary movie franchise with style and scares
Back in 1999, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez's The Blair Witch Project was a $25,000 indie-horror that came out of nowhere to become one of the most successful movies of all time. Just a year later, however, the film's good name was tarnished with the release of Joe Berlinger's lame sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and the franchise has since laid dormant – until now, as Adam Wingard's respectable sequel/reboot Blair Witch picks up the threads of the original.
Set in the present day, the film sees James (James Allen McCune) head to the Maryland woods where his sister Heather disappeared 16 years ago, armed with video footage that hints she might still be alive. Accompanying him is Lisa (Callie Hernandez), who is documenting his search, friends Peter and Ashley (Brandon Scott, Corbin Reid), and the two locals, Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry), who discovered the footage.
Scripted by Simon Barrett, the film feels like a rerun of the original – designed to get the fans back onside much in the same way as JJ Abrams' Star Wars movie The Force Awakens. Wisely, Wingard (You're Next, The Guest) eschews CGI and finds innovative ways to keep the film in the found-footage realm (earpiece cameras work a treat) avoiding that distracting device of people constantly holding cameras throughout terrifying events.
So is it scary? If the film obviously lacks the freshness of the Myrick/Sanchez movie, Blair Witch has its moments – nodding to the twig-figures and the invented mythology of Rustin Parr and Elly Kedward that made the original feel so real. There's an intriguing Möbius strip logic to the structure too that adds to the film's unsettling feel. And, fully aware of the need to escalate tension, Wingard saves the real scares for the final act. Those terrified by claustrophobia need not apply.
General release from Thurs 15 Sept.