Tuesday, 20 September 2016

'Blair Witch' Review

In 1999, the world was shocked by 'The Blair Witch Project' as the horror film introduced a new frightening found footage style. Many thought that this film was real footage which was helped by one of the best ever advertising campaigns for a movie ever. 17 years later, it seems as if the tale of 'The Blair Witch' is still alive as 'Blair Witch' is now here to test its hand at scaring audiences worldwide.

James (James Allan McCune) wants to explore the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland after new footage of his sister Heather emerged online. She went missing years ago and tales of the Blair Witch were heavily linked but nothing could prove this or find the remains of Heather. Along with some friends, they gain the help of two locals as they look to find James' sister whilst also filming a documentary. As the night goes on, they realise that the legend is not only true, but much more sinister than they could have possibly imagined.

For months, this film was packaged as 'The Woods' before it was revealed as 'Blair Witch' at Comic Con. Apparently, the film has been in production for five years which makes it one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood today. Following pretty much the same story as the original, 'Blair Witch' showcases both what is good in horror but also what makes the genre unbearable at times.

To start on a positive note, 'Blair Witch' at times is most definitely unsettling. The dark settings of the woods are things of nightmares and the film does a great job of creating a creepy atmosphere. Clever sound editing makes you feel startled by the slightest of things such as twigs snapping or little movements in the trees, which really plays with your mind. This leads you to be on edge, as it creates tension with you expecting to be frightened by something that can come out of anywhere. The atmosphere is eery throughout which proves to be really effective throughout the film.

However, the film unfortunately uses similar techniques to be incredibly lazy throughout the movie. One of the main gripes about horror movies is to do with the use of jump scares, mainly false ones. This will consist of something not really that scary happening but a huge noise goes off that pierces your ears giving you a fright. The scene isn't scary, the noise just makes you jump without the film actually doing anything. This happens so many times in 'Blair Witch' and it really stops this movie from excelling. There are so many moments when the characters will jump in front of the camera and shout "Hey" to get the attention of their friends creating very cheap jump scares. They constantly use this as well, not even freshening the scare up with something else. Incredibly lazy and really disappointing to see.

The film follows six young adults who each are fairly bland. The main protagonist James is motivated by his sisters disappearance but, that is really the only thing that we learn about his character. No traits or qualities of interest really come into play which can be said about the others. James' potential love interest Lisa (Callie Hernandez) is a little better as she is a filmmaker and overall a decent person. However, she again isn't that interesting and the relationship between her and James seems abrupt as it fails to convince you that they could be a pairing. Lisa however does provide a good reason to how these events are being filmed, giving a fresh and understandable look into the found footage style.

 Brandon Scott and Corbin Reid make up the couple of Peter and Ashley, both being fairly disposable characters. Neither are likeable and don't possess any good qualities rather than being rude and whiny before they even come into course with the 'Blair Witch'. That leaves us with the pair of locals, Talia (Valorie Curry) and Lane (Wes Robinson). With this pair comes to the two opposite ends of the spectrum. Talia has pretty much nothing to do in the film, doing nothing memorable or useful for that matter. Lane however, is by far the most interesting character, carrying a shroud of mystery with him which keeps you questioning about him. You are unsure about what he is really like which adds an extra something to the film as you don't know what to expect from him. It's a shame that the film didn't take more of an advantage with this as they could have looked to do something slightly different with the tale.

The last twenty minutes of the film are really its saving grace. As you get sick and tired of the terrible jump-scares, you finally get what you wanted from the movie: genuinely scary moments. The finale really pays off as you are gripped by the movie as it gives you what you wanted all along. Scary and tense provides a great ending to a horror film that looked to be going the completely wrong way. It's also a shame to see this as you see the capabilities of the creators in this film as they create scenes and situations that are frightening.

Overall, 'Blair Witch' is a pretty average horror movie due to the extreme differences in quality at times. Some weak characters and cheap scares could have made this completely unbearable. However, the film is saved by great sound editing and an ending that works incredibly well. A strange watch due to this as 'Blair Witch' brings both the good and bad in the horror genre..

Final Verdict =

So have you seen 'Blair Witch'? If so what did you think of it? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the movie. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor