While Blair Witch is the surprise sequel to 1999's The Blair Witch Project, it's really more of a reboot/remake that maintains some of the original's creepy vibe, and the nausea-inducing camerawork. What has been added is slick production values, a larger cast to kill off, and a couple of neat glimpses of the things that go bump in the night. Unfortunately, it doesn't break any new ground, is terribly written, and as a direct sequel adds nothing to the storyline.
Earlier this year the indie festival circuit was abuzz with a mysterious film called The Woods. Early reviews were calling it one of the best horror films of the year, and Bloody-Disgusting.com went on to say, "[Blair Witch] is that game-changer horror fans desperately have been waiting for." It was an intriguing marketing scheme and with a fantastic teaser trailer. Then in late July, Lionsgate revealed their big secret: The Woods was actually a sequel called Blair Witch. Cue the sad trombone. While all of this had little to do with the actual film, it certainly set up initial expectations and subsequent disappointment – yet another sequel/remake! Let the backlash begin.
Blair Witch is far from original, and it's embarrassing that found footage is still a preferred gimmick. It rarely works. In the face of danger, young people would not keep cameras steady(ish) and pointing at the danger while running madly. And really, who found this footage and where? How did it get there? And why is it so well edited? There's only so far my belief will be suspended. A witch in the woods? Yes. Videos of said witch surviving to be shown? No.
And like many horror films, this film stumbles when characters start making improbable choices (of course I'll go into the woods alone to look for firewood; I hear a noise – let's walk towards it yelling loudly). My eyes keep rolling so many times, I had to close my eyes and let them rest. And do not get me started on the terrible, terrible dialogue.
Blair Witch is a needless update like Carrie, Poltergeist, or The Thing. If you're going to remake something, why not add a new twist, angle, or build out the story beyond what came before. Those seeking anything beyond the first movie will be let down. For those younger viewers who have never seen the original, this movie will be entertaining. Overall though, it's just an epic disappointment.