Blair Witch is 2016’s second hidden horror sequel, joining 10 Cloverfield Lane in utilizing a late-game title reveal to cause a swarm of free internet buzz. Both film franchises are known for their unusual marketing strategies, which makes the tactic a bit less off-putting, but it still elicits fear that the flashy move is a cover for sub-par material. By the time 10 Cloverfield Lane was actually released, most viewers were genuinely surprised by its quality, and I’ve got a feeling that Blair Witch might become a similar shocker.
Now that we know that the previously titled The Woods is in fact a sequel to 1999’s horror phenomenon The Blair Witch Project, the backlash against the original is starting to creep up again. Yes, the criticism that it started the found footage craze is a valid complaint for those with motion sickness or a general aversion to poorly framed shots, but the accusations that the film isn’t scary anymore always leaves me a bit miffed.
The Blair Witch Project worked as a piece of mass folklore, a whispered and giggled about story that, when finally seen in its entirety, fed off all the hazy warnings you had received before entering the theater.
It wasn’t high-brow or particularly masterful horror, but in recreating the environment of fireside ghost stories and urban legends, it hit a nerve we all enjoy having plucked. If ten or fifteen years on you found the film underwhelming as a traditional piece of horror, then you aren’t just aren’t approaching the film in the right way.
Recreating that environment will be very hard for Blair Witch, but it’s possible that writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard will take the film in a different direction. It worked for 10 Cloverfield Lane, and while Blair Witch is clearly sticking to the found footage genre, there’s still many different spins the filmmakers could put on it.
Wingard and Barrett have already proven their aptitude for diverse genre work with The Guest and You’re Next. These guys aren’t one-trick ponies, and that flexibility might just be the key to unlocking how Blair Witch can work in 2016.
Blair Witch is directed by Adam Wingard and stars James Allen McCune, Valorie Curry, and Callie Hernandez. It will be released in the U.K. on September 15th, 2016 and in the U.S. on September 16th, 2016. For international release dates, click here.
Do you think the Blair Witch can still cause spine tingles and cold sweats? Let us know in the comments!
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