Blair Witch (2016)

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Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Valorie Curry, Corbin Reid
Director: Adam Wingard
Nutshell:  Apparently Heather may have survived in 1999 so her younger brother sets off with some friends and a couple who drifted out from Cabin Fever to go search for her in the same woods in Burkitsville.  More of the same with none of the freshness or impact.

 

The summer of 1999 was a memorable one.  A rare holiday to New York that coincided with the release of a clutch of films that excited the palate.  Deep Blue Sea arrived with zero expectations and yet managed to be as entertaining as it was preposterous and arguably the most enjoyable shark movie in a quarter of a century.  Next up, another absolute joy to behold in Lake Placid, a film that exceeded all expectations with its sharply written, humour laden script as well as its rather loveable killer croc.  It demanded a second viewing and got one.

There was a film by M. Night Shyamalan about a kid who sees dead pepole just around the corner that would go on to become a huge box office phenomenon but the buzz film of the summer was a tiny little indie film that had been picked up by Artisan films for a measly $1 million.  It was tough getting tickets for this movie and all shows were sold out.  We had to wait days to get a seat and when we did the admittedly modestly sized cinema was jam packed with people sitting all over the stairs and corridor as well.  Not an inch of the theatre unoccupied.  The film was in its opening week of release and hardly playing at a handful of theatres worldwide and yet the buzz was deafening.

Blair Witch (2016)

The Blair Witch Project had arrived as a turning point in horror cinema with its novel and extremely effective “reality style” approach.  The legend had already been nurtured through the internet to a mythical status and the town of Burkitsville and the legend of Rustin Parr and the Witch had all become folklore by the time the movie arrived.  It had all been done so cleverly that the line between fiction and fact was obliterated like never before.  People went into the movie not knowing exactly what to expect and almost everyone came out asking the question “was this really true or is it just a movie”.  The extent of the whole “Blair Witch Myth” was spun so perfectly that it was about as “real” and authentic a movie could ever be.  A real “snuff” movie as it were!

Then there was the post Blair Witch era which isn’t quite over with the “found footage” and reality style being taken in all different directions with varying degrees of success.  There was the uniquely effective Paranormal Activity and the entire sub genre it spawned that like most successful styles has been done to death, over and over and over again.  In the last couple of years we have had Sasquatch movies in a Blair Witch style and even in Pakistan we had a clone called Aksbandh, so the genre truly has been milked for all its worth and there is nothing fresh about the genre as it was back in 1999.

Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)

So, in the interim, the rights to the Blair Witch have lapsed to Lionsgate who sensing easy money decided to remake the original for an new generation of cinema goers, hoping that lightening would strike in the same place once again.  The greatest hurdle for Lionsgate’s version would be the fact that nothing about Blair Witch that was fresh and unique and ground breaking in 1999 remains so today.  In fact it is quite the reverse, the genre has been flogged like a dead horse way beyond the grave and if it was to succeed it would surely need reinvention, not regurgitation.

Unfortunately the new incarnation of Blair Witch is almost identical in style as the first film; basically a retread of the first films with a few insignificant tweaks and cosmetic changes along the way.  The other aspect is that while the original’s amateur acting fit perfectly into the scenario, our proper actors this time around appear to be exactly what they are: actors.  The whole exercise is lost in translation as a “reality show” featuring scripts and real actors and professional cameramen with lighting would be.  There is even a sound track that adds to the hollowness of the “reality” on display and the film falls horribly flat in attempting to create an illusion of reality.  It simply comes across as a hack attempt at milking a genre that has already been milked to death in order to squeeze some more dollars out of unsuspecting audiences.  The film fails to work on any level and the resounding question would be “why”.

Blair Witch (2016) has arrived way past its sell-by date and works best as a bad parody of the 1999 classic; humourless, clueless, idealess and a total waste of time and money.  A completely useless film that nobody asked for and nobody wanted.  Watch the trailer and be done with it.