A group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of James’ sister who many believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when a pair of locals offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods, but as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence. Slowly, they begin to realize the legend is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.
Release date: September 16, 2016
Director: Adam Wingard
MPAA Rating: R (for language, terror and some disturbing images)
Screenwriter: Simon Barrett
Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Valorie Curry, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson
Genre: Horror, Suspense
Official website: BlairWitch.movie | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
ALACHIA QUEEN’S VIDEO REVIEW
“Here is my review of Blair Witch, the third installment/reboot of the Blair Witch franchise.”
JAN GILBERT VIDEO REVIEW
Flicks And The City
“a quicker-paced, higher-tech, less subtle sequel to The Blair Witch Project.”
Lauren Loves Movies
HITFIX VIDEO REVIEW
with Roth Cornet and Miri Jedekin
“Blair Witch scared us so much we couldn’t even write a description”
STEPH COZZA’S VIDEO REVIEW
Rated N for Nerd
Steph reviews “Blair Witch,” the sequel to the 1999 horror classic “The Blair Witch Project.” But does it live up to the original?
Blair Witch has received negative reviews, although many critics noted it was an improvement over Book of Shadows.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 38%, based on 125 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Blair Witch doles out a handful of effective scares, but aside from a few new twists, it mainly offers a belated rehash of the original – and far more memorable – first film.”
On Metacritic, the film received a weighted average score of 46 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “D+” on an A+ to F scale.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Leslie Felperin criticized the film, commenting that it is “a dull retread rather than a full-on reinvention,” enlarging the cast numbers this time but sticking to the same basic beats.
Comic Book Resources
“Blair Witch” is a pale imitation, lacking wit, tension or anything resembling scares.
Despite being equipped with hi-tech GoPro-style cameras and GPS, as well as a drone, the investigators lose their grip almost immediately, but it’s an hour before any frights ensue, and those are mostly jump-scares.
Shelbie Lynn Bostedt
Blair Witch suffers from expanding on an already-told story and filling in the blanks that the original intentionally left, well, blank.
Film Journal International
Blair Witch has all the bells and whistles of an effective horror film, without delivering on the originality and general terror of its predecessor.
The film’s well crafted but bereft of any new ideas, moving the series’ mythology forward by perhaps all of a millimeter.
Was I supposed to be scared by this thing?
TRAILER REACTION VIDEOS
LAUREN HIESTAND’S REACTION
Lauren Loves Movies
ZOE ANNE’S VIDEO REVIEW
Wrapped Up In Film
Production companies Room 101, Snoot Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment
Distributed by Lionsgate
September 11, 2016 (TIFF)
September 16, 2016 (United States)
Running time 89 minutes
Budget $5 million
Blair Witch is a 2016 American found footage psychological horror film directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett. It is a direct sequel to The Blair Witch Project and stars James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson and Valorie Curry. The film follows a group of college students and their local guides who venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of Heather Donahue, the sister of one of the characters. Initially, the film’s connection to the Blair Witch franchise was kept secret, with the film having been shot under the fake title, The Woods.
It screened at San Diego Comic-Con on July 22, 2016 and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, before being theatrically released in the United States on September 16 by Lionsgate.
James Donahue finds a recently-uploaded video, containing an image which he believes to be his sister Heather who disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while investigating the legend of the Blair Witch. Believing she is still alive, James makes plans to head into the woods, accompanied by friends Peter Jones, Ashley Bennett, and film student Lisa Arlington, who wants to make her own documentary based on James’ search. Local residents Talia and Lane, who uploaded the footage from a video tape they found in the woods, join them on their search.
Upon entering the woods, Ashley cuts her foot while the group is crossing a shallow creek. Setting up camp for the night, Lane and Talia discuss the disappearance of Heather’s film crew, as well as other mysterious occurrences in the region, all of which they ascribe to the Blair Witch. After hearing noises in the woods during the night, and after inexplicably oversleeping until 2.00pm, they find strange stick figures twined together hanging from the trees surrounding their camp. Unnerved, the four friends elect to head home, despite Lane and Talia’s reluctance. Lisa notices a roll of twine in Lane’s backpack and accuses him of crafting the stick figures as a prank; Lane and Talia are kicked out of the group. After several hours’ walking, the four arrive back at their original campsite, their GPS information proving to be inaccurate. Lisa sends up a drone to obtain an aerial fix of their location, but it malfunctions and crashes into the trees. Ashley develops a fever and becomes bedridden. The team is forced to camp again as night falls and Peter goes to gather firewood. He is chased by an unseen force which causes a tree to collapse, gravely wounding him. James, hearing Peter’s cries, searches for him but only finds his flashlight by the collapsed tree.
During the night, James and Lisa hear more sounds outside. Moments later, Lane and Talia emerge looking haggard, claiming they have been wandering in the woods for five or more days without a single sunrise. Believing that what he is seeing is a hallucination, Lane runs off while Talia begs for food and then sits by the fire and stares blankly. The following morning, James and Lisa are stunned to find that the sun indeed has not risen. Emerging from their tents, they discover many stick figures, much larger than those crafted by Lane, surrounding their camp. Talia recognizes a clump of her own hair on one of the stick figures. Ashley awakens and, devastated by the news of Peter’s disappearance, blames Talia for their plight, spitefully snapping her stick figure in half. Talia then crumples to the ground, her body grossly deformed, before an invisible presence attacks and causes them to flee in blind panic. Ashley gets separated and removes a thin, spiky object strangely embedded in her wound. She falls to her death trying to recover the drone, stuck high in a nearby tree. The camera shows her body being dragged out of the frame by an unseen force.
A rainstorm envelops the woods as Lisa and James stumble outside a house which matches the one seen in Lane’s video. James looks up and believes he spots his sister in an upstairs window. Despite Lisa’s pleas, he enters the house and becomes trapped in an upstairs room. Lisa is terrified by the brief sight of an emaciated, white-colored, long-limbed entity and runs inside, ending up in the basement. She finds a crazed and now heavily-bearded Lane, who traps her in an underground tunnel. Lisa forces herself through the narrow and muddy crawlspace and emerges back in the basement and stabs Lane in self-defense. Chased by the entity she glimpsed outside, Lisa runs upstairs, seeing the same reflection in the mirror that James thought was his sister. She reunites with James and they flee to the attic and lock the door behind them. A bright white light passes through the cracks and windows of the attic before the door is forced open. James tells Lisa to face the corner of the room. He desperately apologizes to Lisa for their fate before hallucinating that his sister is speaking to him. James turns around and dies. Lisa uses Lane’s camcorder to indirectly view what is behind her and begins walking backwards in the hope she can escape. She hears James’ words of apology again and, believing him to be alive, turns around before being attacked off-screen. The camera abruptly drops to the floor. The screen cuts to black.
Wingard first ran into the original Blair Witch Project filmmakers, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, at Sundance while promoting V/H/S/2, and asked them why there weren’t any more Blair Witch films. Although at the time, nothing came of the meeting, looking back on it, writer Simon Barett had opined that the conversation led to them being asked by Lionsgate to produce the sequel. In the initial pitch meeting Barett recalls that Lionsgate had already crafted the initial synopsis for the film and simply asked if he would be interested in making it. During the initial meeting Barett had stated that his “only thing I really pitched was the other characters; they’d originally conceived the film as more similar to the first film, following its narrative fairly closely, with only three or four characters, I think, but I wanted more characters to give us more scare sequences. I also wanted a unique dynamic within the group from the start, so I pitched the idea of introducing some Burkittsville locals to the group.”
Barrett would later note that the team found the found footage genre challenging as they’ve only previously worked with it on the V/H/S anthology movies. Barrett noted that with the V/H/S series there was an inherent entertainment value where the segments “were never meant to feel entirely real”, an element that did not work for the Blair Witch series. Speaking on the issue to Bloody Disgusting Barrett stated “even if our scares didn’t work in V/H/S, hopefully people would still be entertained, and if they weren’t, well, another short would start in a few minutes” noting that if a scare didn’t work in Blair Witch “we’d have nothing to fall back on, we’d just have failed completely, and publicly.” To prevent this from happening Barrett and Winger extensively went over each “scare” to discover why it was scary and how the audience would react to it. For some sequences multiple approaches were tried differently “to give us options in the editing room.”
Prior to the film’s premiere at the 2016 Comic-Con, the fact that that the film was a Blair Witch sequel remained a closely guarded secret and was shot under the title “The Woods”. According to the film’s writer, Barrett, the film’s secrecy was done to prevent backlash amongst internet commenters who the filmmakers felt would react negatively to news of a reboot. Prior to the official premiere, Lionsgate went as far as to release a trailer for the film incorporating actual footage, while still keeping the film’s lineage a secret. The film was still publicly known as “The Woods” even at Comic-Con, prior to its first screening, with io9 reporting that the initial theater for the screening was filled with posters for the fake film. After the screening however (during which audiences realized the movie for what it was) all the promotional materials in the theater had been changed to reflect the film’s actual title.
CAST & CREW
James Allen McCune as James Donahue
Callie Hernandez as Lisa Arlington
Brandon Scott as Peter Jones
Corbin Reid as Ashley Bennett
Wes Robinson as Lane
Valorie Curry as Talia
Directed by Adam Wingard
Produced by Keith Calder, Roy Lee, Steven Schneider, Jessica Wu
Screenplay by Simon Barrett
Music by Adam Wingard
Cinematography Robby Baumgartner
Edited by Louis Cioffi
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A group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of James’ sister who many believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when a pair of locals offer to act as guides through the dark […]