Dir. Adam Wingard
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
THE WOODS was a highly anticipated movie from recent heroes of the genre Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (YOU'RE NEXT, THE GUEST) however, all hype went through the window when the project was revealed to be a secret sequel to genre defining classic THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Setting the bar firmly high, initial interest in the project has surged since the reveal at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, and quite rightly so.
Picking up 20 years after the events from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, the film explores Heather's brother's (James Allen McCune) quest to finally unearth the truth of what happened in those bizarre tapes that were found in 1999. Filming the reveal is James' friend Lisa (Callie Hernandez) and bringing along childhood friends Peter (Brandon Scott) and Ashley (Corbin Reid), they set out to investigate some recent footage which may lead to the whereabouts of Heather after the events that occurred in 1994.
Despite their reluctance to accept the myth of the Blair Witch, when they meet up with youtubers Darkweb666 aka Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valoriw Curry) events blur reality and fiction as the group take refuge in the woods.
Taking a heavy inspiration from the original, BLAIR WITCH does not tread new territory but rather presses reset on a franchise that died on its second entry. Homages are made with usage of DV cameras mixed with a bag of modern recording weaponry, even adding a black and white camera for good measure, the events unfold more or less as they did with Eduardo Sanchez' 1999 classic. The difference here is that 2016 offers a plethora of modern technology that enhances the style and mythology of the Blair Witch in a way that kick starts the franchise for a new generation.
Shocking on screen body horror mixed with a heart thumping soundtrack, BLAIR WITCH is terrifying from the moment it begins and never lets go. For those who've seen the trailers will already appreciate that Wingard has gone for full on horror and there is no attempt to emulate the "is-it-real-is-it-not" mythology of the original film and no film 16 years later will ever recreate but instead we get a p[roper sequel and one that does justice to it's idol.
Those who fondly remember the original will find the similarities that are far from hidden but will introduce the series to a new audience who would usually find the slow pace and shocking reveal lacklustre. Those who preferred THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT's build up and realism will be disappointed here but Adam Wingard can be forgiven as he's built a new platform for the series and one that tastefully removes any memory of THE BOOK OF SHADOWS.
The thing here is that BLAIR WITCH grabs you from the start and refuses to let you go, even when you're screaming for the film to slow down and for a horror film in 2016 to achieve that is a huge feat.