Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid
Release Date: January 3, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
A group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of their friend’s sister,who many believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when a pair of locals offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods, but as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence. Slowly, they begin to realize the legend is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.
The surprise follow-up to the monumental found footage film ‘The Blair Witch Project’; ‘Blair Witch’ joins a group of college kids who accompany their friend in search of answers as to the disappearance of his sister who went missing in the woods years ago while hunting for the truth behind the infamous Blair Witch; only to subsequently have their footage mysteriously discovered and providing even more questions in the process. Now this new group of kids has finally uncovered a tidbit of new information, along with the location of the mysterious woods and is fully prepared with all of the best video and surveillance equipment at their disposal, ready to document anything they might uncover. But when the day seemingly turns to permanent night and the mysterious occurrences and terror continue to increase, they soon begin to fear that they may find the answers they seek after all; whether or not they will survive the encounter is another matter entirely.
Directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett who together comprise one of my favorite filmmaking duos working in the horror field today, and responsible for such fantastic efforts as ‘The Guest’ and ‘You’re Next’; Wingard does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Blair Witch’ guiding Barrett’s script with perfect tension and no shortage of deliciously unsettling moments that play a wonderful homage to the original. The film definitely also owes some of the credit to the small, capable cast comprised primarily of lesser known individuals (just as the original cleverly opted for) including James Allen McCune (TV’s The Walking Dead), Callie Hernandez (La la Land), Corbin Reid (TV’s How to Get Away with Murder), Brandon Scott (The Last Of Us), Wes Robinson (TV’s Roadies), and Valorie Curry (TV’s The Following) whose largely unfamiliar faces help to keep things even more convincing along the film’s tense course.
‘Blair Witch’ returns viewers to those mysterious and deadly woods we horror fans are all quite familiar with, even after so many years. Largely disregarding ‘Book of Shadows’, the original sequel to ‘The Blair Witch Project’ (a widely despised sequel which I must admit I’m personally quite fond of and somewhat disappointed is still absent a Blu-ray release of any sort) and takes things back to the found footage basics of the original, merely with a number of necessary modern tools and upgrades more appropriate within our modern world. Filmmaking duo Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett deliver a fantastic and unsettling sequel that manages to keep true to the aspects, shooting style and other elements that defined the first film, while also making the wise choice to merely compliment it with some modern updates as opposed to attempting to redefine or reconstruct it entirely. The choice to cast largely unknown talent in the film’s six roles also helps the viewer to further suspend reality and really become immersed in the terror. I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘Blair Witch’ redefines the horror game or is anything particularly crucial within the genre, nor is it superior to the original. As a creepy, faithful and incredibly fun sequel on the other hand, it delivers in nearly every possible way, and provides plenty of chilling and knuckle biting fun. It’s certainly no secret that there seem to be many drastically opposite opinions regarding ‘Blair Witch’, which is only another reason I would strongly urge any fans of the original film to make a point of giving this one a whirl when you have the chance and deciding for yourself. It’s a creepy and faithful follow-up that I personally enjoyed a great deal.
Overall, ‘Blair Witch’ is a tense, creepy and faithful sequel to the original masterpiece ‘The Blair Witch Project’. The talented filmmaking duo of director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett manage to capture the tone, style and terror of the original in nearly every way, all of which is only further complimented by a minimal cast of relative unknowns, all coming together into a fantastic sequel that makes the wise choice to calmly update the world with some modern aspects, while for the most part staying true to the course and mythology introduced in the original film. For fellow fans of the legendary first film and/or the work of Wingard and Barrett in general (it’s not crucial to the see the first film before watching, though I would highly recommend doing so if possible), I can’t recommend ‘Blair Witch’ highly enough, it’s well worth the cost of a rental at the very least for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure and are hesitant to drop the funds on a blind purchase.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Blair Witch’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great as a whole and delivers a faithful and impressive presentation that retains a clean and sharp shot one moment, and promptly jumping into a grainy and faulty presentation the next when applicable; accurately representing the point of view from each video source and accommodating the jumps between them beautifully. It holds up impressively even during the numerous darkly lit and jumpy/fast moving sequences of which there are a great deal, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible, except of course when intentional within the film. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation that captures the various quality aspects within the film flawlessly and should easily thrill the fans.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack makes a marvelous addition and provides a clean, crisp and often wildly aggressive audio presentation that itself contributes plenty of extra tension to the overall viewing experience. It frequently utilizes all seven available channels in order to send rustling trees, cracking branches, distant screams and pouring rainfall, along with more whipping throughout the various speakers, while always making certain that any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously never becomes distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is an outstanding Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel capable) soundtrack that makes a fantastic compliment to the film and shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Blair Witch’ includes a couple of worthwhile extras that should please fans. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett’, in addition to an in depth look chronicling the steps of bringing the film to life in the 6-part Documentary ‘Neverending Night: The Making of Blair Witch’ (running approximately 1 hour, 47 minutes in length altogether). ‘House of Horrors: Exploring the Set’ (running approximately 16 minutes) is also included.