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Chris Helcermanas-Benge

Into the woods again

Worthy ‘Blair Witch’ sequel entertains and scares

What made the original Blair Witch Project such a hit was that it was the first of its kind. Since then, it’s been superseded by a host of other horror filmmakers coming in our wake who’ve overdone the found footage concept since it came out of the woods.

However, every once in a while a movie comes along, sometimes a sequel, that can still stir the cinematic cauldron and still be horrifying. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett (The Guest, You’re Next) have done that with their sequel, Blair Witch.

A direct sequel to the first film, Blair Witch picks up with the story of the younger brother (James Allen McCune) of one of the original missing documentarians. He becomes convinced his sibling may still be alive somewhere in the woods and ventures to the spot with some friends (Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid and Brandon Scott) to get some answers. Obviously, things go wickedly wrong.

If you go back and watch the original film, it doesn’t quite have that same effect it did when it was released in 1999. Horror films have developed and we expect more from our movies nowadays. The characters aren’t quite as fun to hang around as you remember, and the chills don’t kick in as much as you want.

Blair Witch, on the other hand, provides this world with the depth we’ve been wanting all along: It expands on the myth of the witch, features compelling characters that seem plucked out of our own lives and images that give us much more to fear.

The film may occasionally rely on loud noises or characters walking up unannounced for a quick jump scare, but it also delves into some of our greatest fears such as claustrophobia, haunted houses and walking in the dark with amplified sounds. Warts and all, it’s terrifying.

— Preston Barta

MOVIE RATING

Blair Witch

*** 1/2

Rated R, 89 minutes.

Opens Friday.