Review: ‘Blair Witch’ heads back to the woods, but why?

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

In 1999, “The Blair Witch Project” became a genuine sensation, thanks to its then-pioneering “found footage” gimmick and a clever “is it real?” marketing campaign.

The least interesting part about “The Blair Witch Project” was “The Blair Witch Project” itself, which left most viewers feeling ripped off and has aged about as well as your high school hairstyle.

It’s odd, then, that director Adam Wingard pays such slavish devotion to it in his part-sequel, part-remake “Blair Witch.” The film employs the same shaky-cam style and many of the same tricks as the original “Blair Witch Project,” with a ramped-up sense of dread and gloom. The finale is no doubt effective — it’s basically a better-made version of the original — but in the end, it’s just “Blair Witch” all over again. Fool me once, etc.

James Donahue (James Allen McCune) is the little brother of Heather Donahue, one of the people who went missing in the original film. He and a few friends and a couple he met on the internet go out into the woods in Maryland to find clues of her disappearance.

It all feels very familiar very quickly. Wingard, whose films “You’re Next” and “The Guest” show him to be a talented genre stylist, is purely in homage mode here; there’s even a touch of “The Descent” when he sends actress Callie Hernandez crawling into a very tight space.

Wingard was in high school when “The Blair Witch Project” came out, so he’s checking something off his personal list here. Everyone else moved on from “Blair Witch,” with good reason, a long time ago.

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Twitter: @grahamorama

‘Blair Witch’


Rated R for language, terror and some disturbing images

Running time: 89 minutes