Whether you loved it or hated it, there is no denying that The Blair Witch Project has been hugely influential in the horror genre. It introduced us to the ‘found-footage’ genre, which is starting to wear thin with many, and also started the trend of viral marketing. So, it was to the surprise of many, including me, that a sequel to the now 17-year old film was announced (the less said about the previous sequel, Book of Shadows, the better).
Previously titled The Woods until this year’s San-Diego Comic-Con, Blair Witch is directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) and revolves around a group of teens, led by the brother of the original protagonist, Heather. The group goes to the infamous Maryland Woods to try and find Heather. I won’t say anymore, as the less you know about the film, the better.
The first thing to say about Blair Witch is that it is terrifying. The film wastes no time in building tension and with its short running time of 89 minutes, it doesn’t take long before the film starts rolling in the scares. Although there are many jump scares in the film, a lot of the scares also come from the original mythology that the film expands upon, and the third act of the film is one of the most frightening sequences in recent memory. Furthermore, Blair Witch really makes the most of the new technology available to us since the last film, such as drone cameras, which only amps up the unrelenting tension.
One of the minor flaws of the film is its’ slight over-reliance on jump-scares. At times, it almost feels like the film is trying much too hard to appeal to the Conjuring and Insidious crowd, instead of maintaining it’s real sense of dread and unsettling atmosphere. That’s just a minor gripe however, in what is one of the scariest films in recent memory. With Don’t Breathe, Blair Witch, Green Room, The Witch and The Conjuring 2, it seems that 2016 is the year for memorable horror films.