Blair Witch goes all-in on freakiness, not so much on scares



By Steve Newton

The Blair Witch Project was a huge sleeper hit when it came out in 1999. Made on the cheap, it grossed nearly $250 million worldwide, putting the found-footage horror flick on the map and paving the way for other low-budget cash cows like the Paranormal Activity franchise.

The scariest thing about The Blair Witch Project didn’t have much to do with witches or the curses they impart; its terror came mostly from the primal fear of being hopelessly lost in the woods, with dwindling supplies. The freakiest thing about the movie was the herky-jerky shaky-cam footage, whether shot in the pitch-black forest or that grungy old house at the end.

The makers of the new Blair Witch went all-in on the freakiness, but not so much on the scares.

James Allen McCune plays James, who, obsessed by the disappearance of his sister Heather in the first film, finds a clue to the mystery online. He recruits friends Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Peter (Brandon Scott), and Ashley (Corbin Reid), and–armed with the latest high-tech recording gear–they head out to the Black Hills Forest of Maryland for a fun weekend of camping/witch-hunting. On the way they pick up a local couple who can’t be trusted, so there’s that to worry about as well.

Things get silly pretty quick. Early on in the hike Ashley suffers a nasty gash on the bottom of her foot, which becomes possessed or something, leading to a gruesome infection that momentarily turns the movie into Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever in the Woods.

The rest of the film is basically a rehash of the original, with the campers getting lost and angry and then, at night in their tents, being tormented by bizarre noises that make them jump out and run around in the dark, filming shit.

Only this time around the noises are ridiculously loud and the freaky shaky-cam scenes go on forever–far too long to sustain their panic-inducing impactIt’s okay to crank everything up to 11, but you gotta know when to tone it back down.


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