Friday, October 7, 2016

Blair Witch Review

Imagine a magician walks out on stage and performs an illusion and it blows your mind. Like, you can't wrap your mind around how they did it. For a second you truly believe in magic.

Now imagine that 17 years later you go to the same theater to see a different magician, one that you have seen before and loved what he previously came up with so your anticipation is through the roof...only to see him perform the exact same illusion as that first magician did way back when, only with less skill. You can see ever movement coming, and the movements are just sloppy enough to make you feel like you are peaking behind the curtain and rather than believe in levitation, suddenly you can see the strings holding him up.

The second magician isn't awful. He utilizes style, setting and spacing well to dazzle the senses here or there, enough that you certainly aren't booing him off the stage. The show is good enough to go along for the ride, but the entire time you can't shake that disappointing feeling that you have seen this before, only better.

Being a huge fan of You're Next and The Guest, I was pumped to see Adam Wingard's next film titled The Woods, and that excitement escalated even higher when it was revealed with a Comic-Con surprise that the film was actually a sequel to The Blair Witch Project. The trailer looked like it captured the traumatizing terror of the original and I was in, but little did I know that what originally had me jazzed would actually prove to be the biggest bummer: Blair Witch is too much like The Blair Witch Project. I'm all for using bits and pieces of the same spooky shit from the first, because if you are going to find the premise plausible enough to be scared you have to admit that the entity that haunts those woods would use similar tactics for any new victims that head her way. Therefore, I had no issue with seeing the same visual cues and hearing the same horrifying howls derived of desperate pain echoing through the night, but my god at times Blair Witch feels shot by shot which plays as lazy rather than demonstrating connectivity or serving as an honorable homage.

Despite all of this, I still felt a rush of excitement at times during Blair Witch and it had a few moments that made certain I would steer clear of the woods for some time (not that I had the desire to go fight off some forest clowns regardless, but you get the idea). The problem here, and the reason why I can only give the new Blair Witch a mild recommendation, is that those thrills and chills can be counted on one hand where as the original picture literally kept me up at night when I first saw it.

The Blair Witch Project has been and will continue to be an October favorite for me, as it somehow has not lost any of its luster despite numerous revisits and seeing an exhausting amount of found footage failures since it was released in 1999. Blair Witch is worth the ride, a speedy 80 minutes that feel a bit nostalgic and has me thankful to be relaxing in my home rather than out camping tonight, but it pales in comparison to that brilliant first visit to Burkittsville, Maryland with Heather, Josh and Mike.


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