This was hands-down the longest, most grueling 89 minutes I have ever spent in a movie theater.
“Blair Witch” is the third installment of the franchise of the same name and follows a group of friends who set out to visit the woods where the first film took place. James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott and Corbin Reid star as Adam Wingard directs.
I have never seen the original “Blair Witch Project” but am familiar with its place in cinematic history and unfortunately even more acquainted with what it introduced to mainstream horror films: found footage-style filmmaking. In my “Bridget Jones’s Baby” review I wrote how that was a sequel that was 15 years late but still had a meaningful story to share; “Blair Witch” achieves no such accomplishment and is instead quite honestly, no hyperbole, one of the worst horror films I have ever seen.
This is from Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the men who created the darkly funny slasher “You’re Next,” the pretty cool thriller “The Guest” and the “V/H/S” series, of which my roommate in college was a huge fan of. So it is proven that these two know how to write and shoot films that are self-aware, thrilling and have a creepy atmosphere. So what the hell went so wrong with “Blair Witch” is beyond me.
Nothing in this film feels earned or set up. It begins with “new” footage of the original film and how those hikers met their demise. But what a crazy coincidence, because the guy watching is the brother of the girl who went missing in that video and wants to go find her, convinced she’s possibly still alive in the woods. A few things wrong with that: (1) the original “Blair Witch” is set in 1994 and this film takes place in 2014, meaning the main character has spent 20 years just waiting around not wanting to find her and (2) there is no sane human who would think his sister who went missing 20 years prior would still be alive and chilling in a forest.
I get you need a reason for a new group of attractive young people to go into the woods to get slaughtered for our amusement, but don’t be lazy as to why that is. Just have a person who is obsessed with the legend and another who doesn’t believe in it, and they set out to prove the other wrong. It’s simple and it’s stupid but it would be more appealing and believable than what we are given.
But fine, they’re in the woods. Does scary stuff happen? Nope, not for the first 30 minutes it doesn’t. There isn’t even a few faux jump scares like a deer jumping out or a person tripping; there is not a single attempt at building tension for the first third of this film. It is just people walking around with backpacks spewing exposition dialogue. But once the ish does hit the fan, oh boy, watch out: nothing will continue to happen. People walk in circles with flashlights and annoying first-person cameras and yell the names of their lost friends (who went off by themselves in a forest at night, that’s natural selection trying to do its part and they’re getting in the way of it).
Stupid things continue to happen, from a girl with a foot injury suddenly being able to sprint and climb trees to the good ole cliché of the flashlight running out of batteries just as the scary things begin to happen.
All of this could be forgiven if the film was scary but it is not, not even a little. There is one sequence where a girl is crawling through a tunnel but that only got to me because I am claustrophobic, and even that shot is in the trailer so I knew what it was building towards. The rest of the film is loud growling and sudden appearance of stick figures and none of it makes sense and even less of it is audible or visually coherent because of the atrocious shaky cam.
“Blair Witch” combines all the thrills of walking around with all the scares of an arts and crafts class. I cannot tell you enough how bored I was in this film and how bafflingly, laughably horrible the ending is, not that the first 88 minutes were any better. It is the worst film of 2016 (and 2016 has featured “Warcraft”) and one of the worst horror films I have ever seen, period (I need to sleep on that, although sleep is something I won’t lose any of after watching this film).
Critics Rating: 1/10