The original Blair Witch may have paved the way for found footage, but my word it is a load of rubbish. I disagree with all critics and fans, the original lacks everything from atmosphere, tension, intrigue and true scares. I get that horror films don't necessarily need jumpy moments to be scary, but when all that the original offered is one solid performance, I think scares are needed but there were none. This revamp, reboot, whatever you want to call it, offers a few more admirable aspects but much like the original it is a scare-free, suspense-less borefest.
A young man and his friends visit the Black Hills Forest, the same one in the original, to search for his missing sister, who people believe her disappearance is linked to the Blair Witch. The man directing is Adam Wingard, a man I thought could do no wrong seeing as he directed V/H/S 2, You're Next and The Guest, 3 films I rate very highly. With Blair Witch, he cannot bring to light his style, brilliant scenes of gore and retro vibes, seen especially in The Guest, as the found footage format limits soundtrack, focused camerawork to capture the gore and of course his aesthetic. Even so, Wingard fails to craft an atmosphere as well as set a tone of unease and fear. It's his weakest effort to date and I hate to say it.
However, what I did admire was the sound design. Tree branches creak and bend in the thick forestry, the rain and dense foliage blend smoothly and the sound of characters walking on crunchy leaves all feels strangely satisfying, and during the final five minutes inside an old dilapidated barn the sound of wood shuddering, cracking thunder bolts and frantic breathing all mesh together to deliver a solid piece of horror movie audio mixing, it's just a real shame that what goes on on-screen isn't actually scary.
You get a glimpse of what I assume is the Blair Witch, which looks like a deformed creature with a small body but long, skinny legs and arms. It wouldn't hurt for more found footage films to allow viewers to actually see the entities, the Paranormal Activity franchise began to give prominence to its pivotal demon and it made the series more enjoyable as it went on. Give us what we want to see, not split second glimpses or nothing at all.
Yet again, weird sounds are heard in the night, characters silently creep up in front of the camera accompanied by a loud thud or brushing sound to create cheap jump scares, and those supposedly ominous stick figures appear in the film, much like the original, though it's pretty cool when you actually found out some side characters actually put them there to fool the main characters in order to stay and explore the Blair Witch legend.
If you hated the original film like me, you need not bother with this reboot, unless you have nothing else to watch. For fans of the original, I still think this would be a waste of time as it offers nothing new to the franchise except new characters and a glimpse of an entity. The film also has one solid performance, and that's from Callie Hernandez who at least puts on a good show when she's portraying a girl who is experiencing pure terror like no other. The other performances barely register. Rating: 4/10