Blair Witch – Back in the Woods

The original Blair Witch Project is about a group of friends who vanish in the Black Hills Forest in Maryland. Obviously, if you’re going to do a sequel 17 years later, the last thing you want to do is make a film about a group of friends who vanish in the Black Hills Forest in Maryland. But this is just what the filmmakers have done, and this time around we’re not witness to a new world genre, there’s no great mystery to put us on the edge of our seats and, unbelievably, there’s not one creepy moment.

It’s a B movie that’s been elevated to global status by the reflected glory of the original that wowed us back in 1999. The filmmakers may not have moved on, but audiences certainly have and found footage horror is now as passe as passe gets.

James (James Allen McCune) was four years old when his sister and her two friends left for a trip to discover the truth about the Blair Witch legend.

Blair witch project poster.
Blair witch project poster.

Not only is James plagued by the mystery of his sister’s disappearance, but also about the fact that the house in the recovered videos was never found by the search crews who later scoured the forest. His desire for closure is intensified when he’s contacted by Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Cufrry), who live in the Black Hills area.

They claim to have found a reel that’s identical to the type used by his sister so James decides to investigate. He arranges for him and his three friends, Peter (Brandon Scott), Ashley (Corbin Reid) and Lisa (Callie Hernandez), to meet with Lane and Talia. The pair inform the would-be adventurers that they will only take them to where they found the video if they can join them in their quest. James and his friends agree and the six set off into the woods.

From the moment the story starts, there’s a lingering air of implausibility about the characters’ behavior, particularly so when Peter decides to go into the woods alone to collect firewood.

Apart from the clunky ‘this is where it gets scary’ signposting, the group are in fact surrounded by trees and all anyone had to do was break off a few branches and, hey presto, the camp fire’s burning. This implausibility is exacerbated by endless attempts to manipulate the audience with sound effects and jump scares. Someone emerging from their tent and standing next to you is not scary, no matter how much loud music is added.

The rest of the film consists of a series of unrelated events that, together, do not add up to anything more than a series of unrelated events. Lane and Talia leave and come back with lots of dirt on their faces; Ashley cuts her foot and the laceration houses something that moves and Lisa crawls through a tunnel for an excessive length of time, only to end up in the same spot. The finale is made up entirely of endless shots of empty rooms accompanied, of course, by loud music.

So what’s next for the Blair Witch franchise? Book of Shadows, the first attempt to rekindle the success of the original, failed miserably and this offering is undoubtedly going to suffer the same fate. Faced with another bomb, presumably the studios will now close their check books and accept that nothing more can be wrung from this financial phenomenon. In other words, when the horse is dead, dismount.

Release Dates

Canada Sep 11, 2016 (Toronto International Film Festival)

Philippines Sep 14, 2016

Argentina Sep 15, 2016

Australia Sep 15, 2016

Brazil Sep 15, 2016

Denmark Sep 15, 2016

United Kingdom Sep 15, 2016

Hong Kong Sep 15, 2016

Ireland Sep 15, 2016

Kuwait Sep 15, 2016

Netherlands Sep 15, 2016

Singapore Sep 15, 2016

Canada Sep 16, 2016

Finland Sep 16, 2016

Cambodia Sep 16, 2016

Norway Sep 16, 2016

Pakistan Sep 16, 2016

Poland Sep 16, 2016

United States Sep 16, 2016

France Sep 21, 2016

Italy Sep 21, 2016

Chile Sep 22, 2016

Croatia Sep 22, 2016

Sweden Sep 23, 2016

Germany Oct 6, 2016

Russia Oct 6, 2016

Estonia Oct 7, 2016

Greece Oct 13, 2016

Lithuania Oct 14, 2016

Portugal Oct 27, 2016

Spain Nov 4, 2016

Japan Dec 1, 2016