Saturday, September 17, 2016

Blair Witch (2016) - REVIEW

   In 1999 I blindly stepped into a theater and watched a yet, unknown screening of a terrifying little movie we have all grown to either love or hate...The Blair Witch Project.  As I sat glued to the screen I felt filmmaking was about to change and BOY did it.  Rehash after rehash of found footage dreck has been forced upon us by Hollywood since those 3 campers went missing.  The problem is, very few of them work. 

   In the 2016 sequel to The Blair Witch Project , Blair Witch directed by Adam Wingard we are introduced to new campers but a not so new revelation.  The film follows the younger brother (James) of the original's protagonist (Heather) as he assembles a group years later to go out into the Black Hills of Burkittsville, Maryland to search for his long, lost sister.  The purpose is to (you guessed it) film a documentary of his search. 

   First, let's talk about what works.  The group utilizes modern technologies such as mounted earpiece cameras and one drone that seems to nary capture a thing but trees.  This actually works in this instance as a major gripe of the predecessor was the constant curiosity of why they continued to film their terror.  If a witch is after my ass the last thing on my mind would be setting up a shot.  Here the action simply happens and their earpieces capture it all.  Check.  Also in the film we are privy to more bombastic scenarios.  I won't go into them here but let's just say you can't really say "nothing happens" as so many did with the original film.  More on this later.

   Let's talk about what doesn't work.  Yep, I'm gonna say it.  Horror it comes.  There are jump scares.  Lots....and lots.....and lots of jump scares.  Not the "holy shit a witch just ripped her head off" kind of jump scares, but the annoying "that girl is just standing right there eating a granola bar and they made a loud noise" kind of jump scares.  These will undoubtedly send horror fanboys and gals into a tirade of epic proportions.  They are unneeded and drive any sane horror fan crazy, myself included.  Wingard is usually better than this.  There is also the usual amount of shaky cam that we have all grown to hate within this genre.  Sometimes it was overboard. 

    Now onto what REALLY works.  The last third of this movie was ridiculously satisfying for me.  Just as I was comparing it to Book of Shadows it changed gears and gave me what I was waiting for.  I won't spoil what happens but the end result is terrifying in spots giving us some of the best found footage filmmaking in years.  There is a steady claustrophobic air as the film closes in leaving you on the edge of your seat which is exactly what we want to see in this kind of film.  The performances go from one note to true fear making it all the more tragic that we didn't get the development earlier on to truly care whether these people make it out alive or not.  Had this happened we would have a near perfect fright fest. 

   Overall, it is a VAST improvement over Book of Shadows and although it doesn't produce the chills of it's grandfather this film is much better than most found footage flicks that hit theaters. 

I give it 3 and a 1/2 "Girl She Tried Its" and 1 "Heifer Don't Go In There."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Blair Witch Is Coming!!!!

Picture it..... Charleston, WV 1999.  A young, gay boy coming to terms with himself and his charming boyfriend arrive at the new multiplex at the Southridge Centre shopping complex.  The two young men had no particular movie in mind, they had no agenda....just looking to pass the time.  They see a peculiar looking poster for a movie with half of a girl's face on it and some trees called The Blair Witch Project.  Not knowing much about it they decide to go ahead and check it out.  Little did they know they would spend the next 90 minutes in sheer and utter terror.  That young gay boy was me....and the other was...Pablo Picasso.  Ok, ok The Golden Girls made up that last part.

The Blair Witch Project has had its fair share of hate over the years.  "Nothing happens!", "It's BORING",  "You don't even see a witch!"  For me though that is what made it terrifying...and I was terrified.  You see my imagination is far scarier than anything you could put on celluloid.  I was transfixed on these characters.  Not only did I truly care about each of them, I felt like I was with them in the woods.  The fear of isolation is palpable in this film as it never really lets up.  They get more lost....and more lost....and more lost, all the while experiencing strange and often horrifying occurences throughout the night and mornings.  The sense of dread is ridiculously present and you never really know what is lurking around and tree, a bush, or in the creek....and as we now know yiu never really get to find out.  I left the theatre with 100 scenarios of what could have happened to these poor characters.  Was it a drug addict?  Was it the one who disappeared first?  Was it actually the spirit of a witch?  These possibilities are what kept me up at night.....well that and checking behind my shower curtain because I knew Miss Thing was in there ready to tear me apart.   The film truly stayed with me and continues to hold up today....which leads me to our next chapter!!!

A few months back I caught a trailer online for a found footage movie called "The Woods."  It looked really good and after researching it I found out it was to be released in September and is directed by the glorious Adam Wingard, director of the grossly underrated "You're Next."  Needless to say I was very excited but months went by with really no more news or updates....then THIS WEEKEND HAPPENED. 

At Comic Con in San Diego there was a screening of "The Woods." and as the audience sat comfortably in their seats it was revealed in the credits....simply.... BLAIR WITCH.  The crowd went wild and everyone sat back and saddled up for their surprise!  What they experienced is what some reviewers are calling "One of the scariest films in years." and "The sequel we have been waiting for!" (There was once a wretched sequel but I'm not going there....although that goth girl was the tits.)  The internet world of horror has been abuzz for a few days since the news that Miss Ellie would be back to terrify us.  I, for one welcome her with open arms and can't wait to see what this sequel has to offer!

Happy Slashing Little gay boys and Little gay girls!