Movie Review: ‘BLAIR WITCH’ stirs the cinematic cauldron

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Preston Barta // Editor

BLAIR WITCH | 89 min | R
Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin ReidBrandon ScottWes RobinsonValorie Curry

What made THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT such a hit was that it was the first of its kind. Since then, we’ve been superseded by a host of other horror filmmakers coming in our wake who’ve overdone the found footage concept since it came out of the woods.

However, every once and awhile a movie comes along, sometimes a sequel, that can still stir the cinematic cauldron and be horrifying. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett (THE GUEST, YOU’RE NEXT) have done that with their sequel, BLAIR WITCH.

A direct sequel to the first film, BLAIR WITCH picks up with the story of the younger brother (James Allen McCune) of one of the original missing documentarians. He becomes convinced his sibling may still be alive somewhere in the woods and ventures to the spot with some friends (Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid and Brandon Scott) to hopefully get some answers. Obviously, things go wickedly wrong.

Today, if you go back and watch the original film, it doesn’t quite have that same effect that it did in 1999 when it was released. Horror films have developed and we expect more from our movies nowadays. The characters aren’t quite as fun to hang around as you remember and the chills don’t kick in as much as you want.

BLAIR WITCH, on the other hand, provides this world with the depth we’ve been wanting all along: It expands on the myth of the witch, features compelling characters that seem plucked out of our own lives and images that give us much more to fear.

The film may occasionally rely on loud noises or characters walking up announced for a quick jump scares, but it also delves into some of our greatest fears such as claustrophobia, haunted houses and walking in the dark with amplified sounds. Warts and all, it’s a scary-good time.

BLAIR WITCH opens nationwide today.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.