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Review: Blair Witch

September 11, 2016 @ 8:00 am - December 31, 2016 @ 11:00 pm UTC-7

By Miv Evans

The original Blair Witch Project is about a group of friends who vanish in the Black Hills Forest in Maryland. Obviously, if you’re going to do a sequel 17 years later, the last thing you want to do is make a film about a group of friends who vanish in the Black Hills Forest in Maryland. But this is just what the filmmakers have done, and this time around we’re not witness to a new world genre, there’s no great mystery to put us on the edge of our seats and, unbelievably, there’s not one creepy moment. It’s a B movie that’s been elevated to global status by the reflected glory of the original that wowed us back in 1999. The filmmakers may not have moved on, but audiences certainly have and found footage horror is now as passé as passé gets.

James (James Allen McCune) was four years old when his sister and her two friends left for a trip to discover the truth about the Blair Witch legend. Not only is James plagued by the mystery of his sister’s disappearance, but also about the fact that the house in the recovered videos was never found by the search crews who later scoured the forest. His desire for closure is intensified when he’s contacted by Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Cufrry), who live in the Black Hills area. They claim to have found a reel that’s identical to the type used by his sister so James decides to investigate. He arranges for him and his three friends, Peter (Brandon Scott), Ashley (Corbin Reid) and Lisa (Callie Hernandez), to meet with Lane and Talia. The pair inform the would-be adventurers that they will only take them to where they found the video if they can join them in their quest. James and his friends agree and the six set off into the woods.

From the moment the story starts, there’s a lingering air of implausibility about the characters behavior, particularly so when Peter decides to go into the woods alone to collect firewood. Apart from the clunky ‘this is where it gets scary’ signposting, the group are in fact surrounded by trees and all anyone had to do was break off a few branches and, hey presto, the camp fire’s burning. This implausibility is exacerbated by endless attempts to manipulate the audience with sound effects and jump scares. Someone emerging from their tent and standing next to you is not scary, no matter how much loud music is added.

The rest of the film consists of a series of unrelated events that, together, do not add up to anything more than a series of unrelated events.
Lane and Talia leave and come back with lots of dirt on their faces; Ashley cuts her foot and the laceration houses ‘something that moves’ and Lisa crawls through a tunnel for an excessive length of time, only to end up in the same spot. The finale is made up entirely of endless shots of empty rooms accompanied, of course, by plenty of loud music.

So what’s next for the Blair Witch franchise? Book of Shadows, the first attempt to rekindle the success of the original, failed miserably and this offering is undoubtedly going to suffer the same fate. Faced with another bomb, presumably the studios will now close their check books and accept that nothing more can be wrung from this financial phenomenon. In other words, when the horse is dead, dismount.

Release Dates

Canada Sep 11, 2016 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Philippines Sep 14, 2016
Argentina Sep 15, 2016
Australia Sep 15, 2016
Brazil Sep 15, 2016
Denmark Sep 15, 2016
United Kingdom Sep 15, 2016
Hong Kong Sep 15, 2016
Ireland Sep 15, 2016
Kuwait Sep 15, 2016
Netherlands Sep 15, 2016
Singapore Sep 15, 2016
Canada Sep 16, 2016
Finland Sep 16, 2016
Cambodia Sep 16, 2016
Norway Sep 16, 2016
Pakistan Sep 16, 2016
Poland Sep 16, 2016
United States Sep 16, 2016
France Sep 21, 2016
Italy Sep 21, 2016
Chile Sep 22, 2016
Croatia Sep 22, 2016
Sweden Sep 23, 2016
Germany Oct 6, 2016
Russia Oct 6, 2016
Estonia Oct 7, 2016
Greece Oct 13, 2016
Lithuania Oct 14, 2016
Portugal Oct 27, 2016
Spain Nov 4, 2016
Japan Dec 1, 2016

Details

Start:
September 11, 2016 @ 8:00 am
End:
December 31, 2016 @ 11:00 pm

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