Blair Witch

Blair Witch ★★½

I gotta say it: no theatre experience will ever quite compare to walking into a theatre decked out with marketing for The Woods, having already seen a trailer, posters, and having been sufficiently hyped up by the names behind the film alone, only to, less than five minutes into the mysterious picture, realize I was watching a long-awaited sequel to a modern horror classic. I sat in my seat absolutely stunned for 20 minutes. The jaded cynic in me disappeared. For the first time in my moviegoing life, I was genuinely and unabashedly shocked. It was a fucking awesome feeling.

And yet...... UGHHHHHHH I wish this movie were better. Wingard and Barrett, working within the confines of a definable "franchise" for the first time (I'm not really counting VHS), seem to lose everything that made You're Next and The Guest suggest that a new, unique voice was coming down the pipeline. This is a Blair Witch movie first, and not a Wingard and Barrett movie until maybe even another ten places down that hypothetical list. Found footage isn't my thing, I should say -- despite loving films like Chronicle and admiring the genius in things like Paranormal Activity 3's fan-camera, the style's shaky "realism" and emotional detachment has never really appealed to me. I'm disappointed to say Blair Witch falls into the same traps over the course of its runtime, all leading to an ending that's claustrophobic and terrifying, sure (mainly due to the abundance of loud, frustrating jump scares -- another thing I dislike about the found footage genre) but also completely unsatisfying from a storytelling and emotional standpoint, an area in which I've found Wingard and Barrett to be quite compelling -- their characters rock! Their films are satisfying! Hopefully they're not stuck in horror franchise filmmaking forever -- these guys don't deserve to be forced to fit a mold -- a mold should be made around them. 

Still, nothing will ever beat the surprise and realization of what I was watching, which don't get me wrong, despite my final star rating, was a 5-star experience, and I'm massively disappointed (and also a little bit selfishly gleeful) that no other audience will get to experience it the way I did, but as a film separated from its hype and mystery... Blair Witch (The Woods whatever you wanna call it) is simply nothing to write home about, and a disappointment coming from my absolute favorite up-and-coming writer/director duo.