They nailed it. And anyone who simply dismisses it, I have to label as either lazy, not paying attention–or both. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett paid attention…boy, did they ever! Their update/reboot of, perhaps, the most influential horror film of the last two decades, is fresh, sharp, and very, very scary. Against all odds, they’ve recaptured the mojo of the 1999 original film, and yet found a way to update things just enough for the 21st century millennials and their offspring. It’s a smashing achievement, that even managed to rekindle that same fear I felt pre-2000. Just when you thought it was safe to re-enter the woods…
James Donahue (well-cast James Allen McCune) is the brother of the Heather character from the original film (yeah, if you haven’t seen “The Blair Witch Project”, you’re already behind). Haunted by her disappearance, and even hoping against hope that somehow she is still alive after 20 years missing, James fronts a new expedition into the Burkittsville, Maryland woods. It’s here, along with friends Peter (Brandon Scott), Ashley (Corbin Reid), and film student Lisa (Callie Hernandez), that James hopes to shoot down the superstition involving the “witch”, while also attempting to find some answers regarding his long-lost sibling. Armed with a variety of updated camera equipment–and even a drone–the quartet meets up with the two young locals (Wes Robinson as Lane, and Valorie Curry as Talia) who located the “lost” film of Heather, Mike and Josh, from two decades prior. Almost immediately, things begin to happen.
“Blair Witch” works beautifully. Done in the same found-footage style as its predecessor, you’d be totally within your rights to ask if that premise can work again. It does. When “The Blair Witch Project” hit like a shock wave in the summer of 1999, there were still a number of naysayers. “The camera is too shaky”, “the dialogue is mundane”, and “you never get to see the witch”, were all heard more than once. I instantly dismiss the first two, plus I always lauded the brilliance of the last. Do they show the witch this time? Well, yes…and no. It’s incredibly well thought out. You see something…but you’re never quite certain what. And it’s more than once. It’s spooky and titillating. In fact, “Blair Witch” pretty much outdoes your wildest expectations. Non-believers can go stand facing the corner.