This installment of the Blair Witch franchise essentially picks up where the first film left off. James Donahue, the brother of Heather Donahue, is certain that he has seen footage of his sister online. Determined to track her down, he gathers a group of friends and two guides to lead him to a remote house in the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to find her.
Fool Me Once…
Way back in 1999 when The Blair Witch Project came out, it enjoyed unimaginable success based on a clever viral marketing campaign. Being substantially less sophisticated, Internet users at the time bought into the mythos of the film that was supported by a website documenting the “real” incidents that composed the legend of the witch. Wholly improvised, it was shot in a manic, first-person style that played heavily into the viewer’s desire to believe. The story revolved around Heather Donahue and two other film students as they attempted to document the story of the Blair Witch in Burkittsville, Maryland. They were never seen again. While performing fabulously at the box office, the film failed to deliver. It was a redundant hodgepodge of student-level improvisation and little-to-no plot
Released a year later, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 stunk up the joint. Eschewing the minimalist realism employed in the first, this effort felt like any other “Hollywood” horror film. The reviews and box office numbers agreed. The spell had been broken, essentially killing the franchise and leaving it dormant for nearly 20 years.
Fool Me Twice…
Blair Witch picks up 20 years after the first film ended. It follows the story of James Donahue (James Allen McCune), the brother of Heather, as he continues to look for his sister, who he still believes is alive. After seeing an online video in which he deems proof that Heather is still in the woods, he and a film crew and two guides go to Burkittsville to find her.
The film is basically a retread of the original. The plot is paper thin. It was shot entirely in the first person. The camerawork is shaky to the point of being nauseating. I left the theater with a pounding headache because of the herky-jerky nature of it.
The performances felt thin and uninspired.Most were just a notch or two above acting by the cast of a haunted house. Corbin Reid, as “Ashley,” was the sole bright spot. She has a fiery charisma that worked in the context of her character.
The last quarter of the film is spent inside the house where Heather was last seen. This is where the hacky, haunted house nature of the movie really cranks up. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be looking for the Blair Witch or keep my eyes peeled for the Scooby-Doo gang. I will compliment one sequence involving “Lisa” (Callie Hernandez) crawling through a narrow underground tunnel. It was particularly tense and claustrophobic.
Overall, this isn’t a very good horror film. At best, it is forgettable; at worst, entirely skippable. Much like the Blair Witch herself, this franchise has worn out its welcome.
-Zep the Bear