In October of 1994, Heather Donahue and two friends traveled to Burkittsville, Maryland to make a film about the legend of the Blair Witch. They all disappeared. When their footage was found later, it was clear that something bizarre happened to them while in the woods. Twenty-two years later, James Donahue travels to the same location with a group to find his sister, whom he hopes is still alive.
James’ search for Heather is to be the subject of his friend Lisa’s film project. They are accompanied by his childhood pal Peter, as well as his girlfriend Ashley. Before they begin, the group meets up with a local couple who found another tape believing to belong to Heather. The six of them hike into the dense woods and soon realize there may be truth to the legend.
Blair Witch dives deeper into the mythology of the witch and the history the town. Lane and Talia, the local couple tagging along, inform the group of the frightening past the town holds. From the story of Elly Kedward, who was executed for witchcraft in 1785, to child-murderer Rustin Parr in the 1940s, who blamed it on Elly. You don’t really need to see the first film to fully understand the history, as this film perfectly – and organically – recaps everything.
Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (V/H/S and You’re Next) did a wonderful job of staying true to the original in terms of style but allowing the modern age to give it new life. Obviously, technology has improved in the two decades since The Blair Witch Project, so we have high quality cameras which makes all the difference for a found footage film. The group also utilizes a drone camera, as well as small hands-free personal cameras that put you right in their POV.
Another thing that worked for this film was the secrecy. With such a disastrous follow-up in the Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 from 2000, which is completely ignored in this film, it was smart of the filmmakers to keep this completely secure. It wasn’t until San Diego Comic Con this past July, that a screening of The Woods was unveiled to be Blair Witch. This allowed the filmmakers the ability to make a film their way, without harsh criticism from the start.
While the film is entertaining and certainly frightening, it does feel short in time. For such a highly anticipated film, that we didn’t even know we wanted, I wish it was longer. With a runtime of 89 minutes, you’ll find yourself wanting more when it comes to an end. The third act is so fast-paced that it feels like it abruptly ends. Room for a third installment perhaps?
Blair Witch comes out September 16th!