Blair Witch (2016)

It’s just such a travesty that Adam Wingard’s shot at the “Blair Witch” mythology flopped and has been generally derided by fans alike. I, for one, completely loved “Blair Witch,” not only for being such a unique and terrifying experience, but for the respect Adam Wingard has for the mythology. Even if you never bothered to watch those documentaries about Burkittsville, director Wingard brings everything full circle, including nods to the documentaries, the much derided sequel, and the original film. It’s a legacy sequel, but one that also acts as an impromptu book end to the whole series. After this I don’t know when we’ll ever see anything about the Blair Witch ever again, but it’s a great consolation the series goes out on this note.

Wingard’s found footage movie is much more polished and infinitely more menacing than the original film. While the original horror indie masterpiece relied on gritty footage and documentary-like camera work, while Wingard uses more technologically advanced camera work for the sake of plot devices. The characters wear small head cameras, and use a drone, both of which eventually become very essential to drawing horror from the audience. What’s more is the drone also becomes the total word in the film’s narrative on the fate of our characters. There’s even a very teeth clenching tense moment involving a character climbing a tree to grab one of their lost drones. “Blair Witch” is set years after the original film where her brother James is now on the hunt for her and is convinced she’s alive.

Against his friends’ better judgment, James, his girlfriend Lisa, and their two friends travel through the same woods Heather did in 1999. Along the way they also meet two Blair Witch fans, both of whom tag along to find Heather. “Blair Witch” seeks to explain a lot of the more inexplicable plot elements of the original movie, and even dabbles in the concepts explored in the sequel. There are peeks in to the loss of time, the way the woods take on lives of their own, and a deeper look in to the house Heather was last seen. And yes, director Wingard even gives us a glimpse at the Blair Witch, while also creating some new horrific supernatural elements that we only grab a brief glimpse of, that further add to the entire arc of the Blair Witch and her presence within the woods.

Director Wingard approaches “Blair Witch” with great ambition, providing satisfying explanations, but also leaving some elements ambiguous for the sake of a follow up down the line. He’s skilled in offering up some banner moments of horror, including Lisa’s crawl through a hole, a grotesque scene involving a centipede, and the final scene which had me on wits end. “Blair Witch” is a fun, creepy, and stellar follow up to the original film that completes the circle, and brings new ideas to the table without straying from what made the original film so memorable.