Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Blair Witch (2016)

Blair Witch (2016)
Heather Donahue, James Allen McCune, Jeffrey Donovan, Brandon Scott, Callie Hernandez and Corbin Reid

Rated: R for language, terror and some disturbing images.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date:  September 15, 2016 Released by: Lions Gate Films

A sequel to the 1999 surprise low-budgeted horror smash (released by Artisan Entertainment, set in 1994 and directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez relating the exploits of three student documentary filmmakers) which polarized many and used its shaky camera technique to promote a 'fear of how things go bump in the night' tidally delivers new chills in an inspired way at least for a millennial generation.

Blair Witch updates a tried-and-true formula by honoring its progenitor in ways that could somewhat lessen the aggravation from its detractors who wished the whole enterprise was never thought up (purportedly to stimulate Internet interest of its haunting realism) to be a rip-off or could have been more viable as a short-length feature.

Here, the new filmmakers, helmer Adam Wingard (You're Next) and scenarist Simon Barrett work off the Maryland legend with a noticeable degree of success, in some cases in oddly shocking ways utilizing current drone mechanization while almost realizing the macabre from the likes of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

Formerly entitled The Woods in order to be clandestine about its lineage, this found footage psychological horror film centers around college students and a couple of local residents/guides looking into the mysterious disappearance of one of their sisters (Heather Donahue) part of a trio of documentary filmmakers some twenty-two years earlier. Which ties into the eponymous myth with occult phenomenon and energies deepening its potent countenance the further they traipse into the Black Hills Forest.

Like the earlier films, including the misguided Book of Shadows which gradually led cast member Jeffrey Donovan onto better things like the small-screen cable series Burn Notice, the casting stays under the radar, so to speak, to help maintain more of a taut, edge-of-your-seat feel. As this fright fest blankets them like an eerie, thick mist. James Allen McCune is Heather's brother James who does his best to offer a heady, desperate presence while the utilitarian ensemble (all things considered) include Brandon Scott as Peter Jones, Callie Hernandez as Lisa Arlington, neophyte Corbin Reid as Ashley Bennett, as well as docents in Wes Robinson's Lane and Valorie Curry's Talia.

In terms of genre presentation, Wingard's more unequivocal presentation appears to loom larger in the long run, arguably more efficient in the use of its running time (about ten minutes longer than when Heather and her male companions made some startling discoveries). An unspectacularly effective Blair Witch, appearing to capitalize after a decent crop of creepier yarns like Lights Out and the current hit Don't Breathe, puts the sleepy, though cursed hamlet of Burkittsville (located between two Civil War battlefields) back on the map again in a more refined, if truly marginally haunting fashion.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Matt Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Blair Witch (2016)        C+                     C+ 

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