Well hello there little friendship friends that pilot the boat of friendship, how’s it going?
Starting the fall season off appropriately, on September 16th 2016, the new and not at all improved Blair Witch movie was released, and it was directed by Adam Winguard.
Some of you may remember the name, and he’s the gentle soul behind the actually kinda good home invasion film, “You’re Next”.
Before we get started with too much fuckery and spoilers (and obvi this review has spoilers, but if you need me to tell you that, and if you are worried about spoilery spoiling yourself on this outdated story, than you’re kinda dumb.. but that’s neither here nor there or anywhere), allow me to say that I liked You’re Next and if you click that shiny little hyperlink you can read Scotty F and myself wax idiotic about it. With that said – I had zero expectations for this new instalment in the Blair Witch series. None.
Firstly – I don’t really know how relevant the story of the Blair Witch is to 2016. The original film was barely relevant at the time, but at least it had the whole late 1990s grunge lost camper thing going.. before the advent of cell phones and social media and what not. The concept of being thoroughly lost in the woods seemed a little scarier, anyways.
Second – the first movie wasn’t really that good? I mean yeah it had some creepy parts and it certainly ushered in the land of found footage films, but I remember being a youngster and watching it with my parents and being kinda meh about it. Like I said, tbere was a few creepy parts, but they only really took place at the very end of the film for about the last 20 minutes and even then the scares were kinda minimal.
Now – I’m not all about a pop scare/jump scare. Those scares are a bit too easy, especially now. I much prefer a good creepy/uncomfortable feeling that happens and hangs are for days or even weeks after consuming a piece of media, be it film, book, music, whatever. I’m very very open to that, so that’s why I think I end up being a little warmer to the original Blair Witch Project. It was creepy so that worked for me.
That said though, I am 100% about the campy fuckery that is Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, but I will leave that for another time.
So, with all this down, won’t you join me for a SPELL and some PLEASANT SCREAMS, as we delve into Blair Witch (2016).
I’m not apologizing for either of those amazing Oscar Wilde like pieces of wordplay either, so fuck off.
Okay, so for those of you that aren’t familiar with the first movie, you can get out.
The story to this belated follow up is that James (younger brother of Heather from the original) has become somewhat obsessed with the story of his older sister going missing in the Blair Black Hills Forest (as you do) and finds a video online of some “found footage” uploaded by a pair of local Blair yokels that contains a quick snapshot in a mirror of someone who appears to be his sister. Convinced for some reason that after 15 or so years of having vanished that his sister could be still alive in the Black Hills. This makes no sense but yeah okay. He convinces his group of three friends to tag along with him to Blair to go camping/look for his sister and the locals who uploaded the video agree to act as guides into the forest for them.
So as you can imagine, there’s much teen edge lord fuckery as this band of jackholes sets off into the woods with their drone and fancy webcams that seem to be plugged into nothing and their phones with batteries that never run out.
Oh the Apple Stores of the future.. what have you wrought.
Where can I, a lowly peasant, purchase such acoutrements?
There’s a lot of foreshadowing that gets foreshadowed, when the peach fuzz rat moustached guide Lane (or Lame as I originally heard), was like, “Maybe the witch did get to you! You’ve returned…”
Yeah. We get it. Pour it on thick. Pour some sugar on me.
Once the kids and their g-crew wandered past the fence marking the entrance to the Black Hills, things kinda started to go awry pretty quickly. One member of their hiking squad cuts her foot on a rock and James decides to shittily dress her wound which is obviously going to get infected.
Compasses seem to stop working and the whole crew is like YAY let’s make camp.
The gangster kinda dude has troubles setting up his tent because HE A CITY BOY. I dunno if this was funny or sad or whatever, but it sure was a thing.
Over night the typical Blair Witch tapping, snapping and rustling sounds are heard in the woods and the whole camp awakens to find their camp site surrounded by the eponymous stick figures of the Blair Witch.
I think this was one of the creepier parts of the movie, if only because, where I’m from, this is kind of hitting close to home. I regularly go tromping out in the bush and I don’t much care to think how I would feel if I woke up being surrounded by creepy shit that I didn’t put in my camp site.
The G-crew ends up realizing that time seems to be moving either quickly or slowly, because they wake up at 2pm and it seems to only just be morning.
Finding the stick figures, the girl with the stink foot infection is obviously non-plussed and pretty shortly afterwards Lane/Lame and his purple haired manic pixie punk rawk girlfriend admit to having faked the stick figures in the camp site in order to scare their campers. James and his friends tell them to take a hike (see what I did there) and they split up.
Stink foot the magnificent and the rest of them take off into the woods and end up wandering around in circles despite following their map/GPS, and they attempt to fly their drone out but crash it into the trees.
They end up camping at the same place they had originally camped.
Hearing some rustling sounds in the woods, they end up meeting back up with Lane/Lame and purple hair and they’re both looking pretty wild eyed and crazy and are considerably worse for the wear even though they only separated from them a few hours previous. Lane/Lame is ranting some nonsense about it being five or six days since they’d seen each other and he staggers off into the woods screaming. Purple hair grabs a Clif bar and gets to nom-ing.
The crew all go to bed and in the meanwhile end up losing their gangster dude friend somehow.. he ends up having a tree fall on him or something.
His girlfriend, stink foot sees a bunch of stuff moving around in her foot wound but you don’t really get to see anything. Just a tease. Kind of like this movie, truth be told.
Anyways, the alarm goes off for 7am and they wake up to find out it’s still dark as fuck out and boom, the whole camp is covered in some totally not faked, entirely fucking creepy ass stick figures and everyone is obviously unhappy about the whole turn of events. I mean especially purple hair who finds her own hair twined into one of the stick figures.
Fever dream Stink-foot rolls out of her tent and gets pissed and snaps the My Little Pony purple hair stick figure in half which somehow then snaps Purple Hair in half. So. Yeah.
That made zero sense, but sure.. let’s fuckin’ go with it, because fuck it.
Right around this time, the witch shows up and her unseen force pulls the tent upwards into the air and everyone freaks the fuck out and scatters like the rats in Ratatouille.
So.. Stink foot and James and his gf get separated and Stink foot decides that she’s going to, with her pulsating pustulating stink leg scale a giant Sitka spruce tree to get the crashed drone.
And she immediately falls to her death. Good.
James and his girlfriend run around the woods for a while having minor panic attacks, being hunted by the witch, looking for their dead friends, when a storm hits and they stumble upon the ruins of the old house in the woods.. the same one that Heather went into in the final Blair Witch tape, the same one that was in the footage that led them to the woods in the first place. Reluctant to enter the house, James’s gf sticks around outside in the pouring rain while James goes inside. Clearly his sister is not there, but he is pursued by the witch in flashes of the lightning from outside.
When James’s gf does finally go inside she is attacked by Lane/Lame who chucks her into a hole in the basement and she finds a tunnel system that leads outside and serves to show us a very claustrophobia inducing scene of her squeezing through a tunnel and freaking out.
I’m not into enclosed spaces, so this part of the movie made me feel pretty nauseous. Also I had eaten some fries before the show so that may have been it, too.
Anywho, James’s gf crawls through the tunnel and ends up stabbing Lane/Lame and then meets back up with James as the two of them face the corner to avoid looking directly at the Blair Witch who appears as just a nude woman with elongated body parts? She’s Mrs. Slenderman.
James apologizes to his gf and turns around to face the witch, believing he is hearing Heather’s voice. His girlfriend holds out a little longer until she hears James’s disembodied voice. She turns and her face flashes into a mirror, similar to the face seen in the footage that led the group to the Black Hills, giving rise to the “time slip/out of time” theory that floats around about the Blair Witch Project.
Everything goes black.
So. I can’t say I was a HUGE fan of this movie, but I went in expecting it to be highly unwatchable garbage and it wasn’t. It had some pretty clear issues in terms of having a weak plot that essentially rips off the first movie, but it does have some pretty effective scares that are quite creepy. The nausea inducing slog through the mud hole at the end was a lot to take, as well.
I like that the mythology of the witch was expanded on a little bit – she wasn’t hung or tied to a tree, she was strapped to a makeshift rack and that’s why her limbs are all long and gangly. I don’t know that this movie was effective in terms of scaring anyone, but it looked good and had good production value in it. I liked that over all.
Adam Winguard has a very distinctive eye for shots and this was maintained in the film, I just wish that a lot of the found footage had been.. less found.. At points the shakey cam was so shakey I didn’t know what the fuck I was looking at and because there’s six people and six points of view it made it even harder. Another issue was with the sound in the film. The original BWP film relied on quiet sounds, scratching and tapping and moaning in the distance and in this, the witch seems to be able to make crushing stomping and beating herself to death sounds that do make a lot of the dialogue difficult to hear – but I mean, not that it fucking matters. This isn’t some grandiose important piece of cinema here.
Beyond a cursory watch or two, I don’t know that this film has a lot of staying power. I mean, it’s interesting yes, but it’s kinda middle of the road as far as horror fuckery goes.
It could have been a lot better, but on that note, it could have been way way worse, so take that however you like. As always – go see the film. Judge for yourself.
If you need me, I’ll be making spoopy stick figures outside your house.. don’t mind me.