In terms of build-up, this film came out of nowhere, there was no publicity surrounding the release, which is a very different approach to the first film (more on that in a bit), in fact, for months the film was known under a totally different title – The Woods.
The true ‘film behind the film’ was released over the summer at the annual Comic con, where a group were invited to preview the upcoming film, as the lights went out and the opening credits rolled, the true film was revealed, apparently greeted with shocked, but excited responses from those gathered.
Back when The Blair Witch Project was released, the internet as we know it today was in it’s infancy, google was less than two years old and at the time it was hard to find ‘everything about everything’. As a result, the film company were able to plant a lot of information on various sites to cast doubt in people’s minds as to if this film was actually a true story or not. They even went as far as to list the main three characters as ‘missing presumed dead’ on the film site IMDB.
Even after seeing the film back in the day, we were all still not 100% sure if this film was genuine or not and spent several hours that night discussing this point.
These days, there is no hiding anything on the internet, so that tactic was not possible this time around, which is probably why they took the total opposite course of action with this film – deny all knowledge!
Once the truth was out, there was quite a lot of hype and excitement that surrounded the film, especially considering the official sequel, which was panned by the critics when it was released, but in the end actually ended up making more money at opening weekend than Blair Witch 2016, was totally different to the original and not really what the fans were wanting to see in a follow up.
Everything seemed to be pointing towards what would finally be the true sequel that everyone wanted, then the film was released and people…….avoided it like the plague!
People seemed to be panning this film for three main reasons:-
The film was to similar to the first film
The film was not like the first film
THEY SHOWED THE WITCH!!!
Now, the first two points kind of cancel themselves out, you can’t please all the people all the time so 50% of the viewers are always going to be out of luck. Personally, I think the film was very similar to the first film, but for so many years, this is exactly what people have been wanting to see in the Blair Witch Franchise and I for one was very happy with where the story went.
In terms of the third point, I really don’t have too much issue with them showing the witch, after all it’s not like ‘she’ was constantly on the screen, I think ‘she’ probably got about 10 seconds of screen time in total and as a result, it’s still very hard to actually get a good view of just what exactly ‘she’ was, I guess that will have to wait for the DVD/Blu Ray release with the bonus of being able to pause the film.
Just to bring people up to speed on this version of the film, the basic premise is:-
“A young man and his friends venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mystery surrounding his missing sister. Many believe her disappearance 17 years earlier is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when two locals act as guides through the dark and winding woods. As the night wears on, a visit from a menacing presence soon makes them realize that the legend is all too real, and more sinister than they could have ever imagined.”
There are a few bits of the film that I have issues with, which I will go through individually below:
Too much emphasis on ‘camera sound effects’
Things have moved on in terms of video taking capabilities over the past 17 years since the first film was made, but the film makes seem to want to revisit the oldskool days where cameras often suffered from static interference, where the there would be a loud ‘rustling’ sound and the picture would cut out regularly. Initially this was quite a nice touch, but after a while it became a bit tedious and felt very forced.
Things not being explained enough throughout the film.
There were some really good moments in the film, but they seemed to be rather rushed and ended up getting missed in everything else that was going on, the most stand out example of this was when the group found one of the ‘witch symbols’ which appeared to have been made with one of the group’s hair, I was really impressed with what happened when the symbol was destroyed, but the results were shown on screen for a maximum of 1-2 seconds, so much so, I had to explain what it was all about to the person who went to see the film with me (he is a big horror fan, so it’s not like he does not know how these things work).
Another example is when one of the characters was forced to pull something out of her leg, but this bit came totally out of the blue. Earlier on in the film, she had got a cut on her foot, but at no point was it shown where she cut her leg, but the wound that was shown looked quite nasty, not like she scraped her leg on a twig or something like that.
Time-slip between the characters.
Time seemed to change depending on which character you were following, but it was never fully explained as to what was going on, for example, two of the group are told to leave after faking one event, they then show up later on saying they have been wandering around the woods lost for two days. Another pair state that they have been asleep for twelve extra hours (they set their alarm for 7am, but woke up at 7pm), this was not referenced by anyone else in the camp.
When we are re-introduced to the local who was guiding the group around the woods, he had suddenly grown a massive beard, but again, you just had to presume that a vast amount of time had passed.
Shiny door handles
This bit was the biggest issue for me, when the group finally find the ‘Blair Witch House’ and head inside, the place is pretty dilapidated, holes in the roof, mold on the walls, basically the whole place looked like it had been left to the elements for many many years…then there were repeated shots of the door handles, which for some reason, looked like they had recently been replaced as they were rather shiny looking, i’m not sure what that was all about.
The above issues were present throughout the film, but it’s a horror film, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, you go into the cinema, forget about the outside world and what is real/believable and what is not.
I for one was able to do that and as a result, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, it was exactly what I was expecting the film to be, it was to find out what happened after the events of the first film.
Yeah, there are holes in the plots, things don’t always make sense but I feel satisfied that things are tied up nicely now and we finally have a ‘true sequel’ to what was the first ever ‘found footage’ film.
The last twenty minutes of the film were some of the most intense scenes I have seen in a long time and i was engrossed in it, I truly felt anxious for Lisa when she was trying to escape from the tunnel and it’s not often I get that into a film these days.
I think this film kind of sums up my own experiences of film critics, when a film gets universally panned by the critics, I have tended to enjoy them a lot more than those films that get rave reviews.
Since I initially wrote this review, Simon Barrett (writer of Blair Witch) has tweeted an interesting response to someone who said “I loved the way the witch looked” by announcing that what we saw on screen was not the witch, it was ‘something else’.
So, what exactly was it that we (briefly) saw in the woods, judging by the ratings/reviews and poor sales for the film it is quite possibly a question we will never have answered as sadly I don’t see the film company being in any rush to make another film in the series.