Long, long ago, in the dark year of ’99, a new kind of horror movie was unleashed. With its pseudo-homemade, documentary-style appearance, The Blair Witch Project took the world by storm, spawning imitators such as the Paranormal Activity series, in which young hipsters take “real” footage of scary things before being snuffed out.
The Blair Witch Project concept worked…but just barely. It was a bit of a stretch to think that a group of cocky young potheads –Heather, Josh, and Mike– could maintain the presence of mind to keep the cameras rolling while being pursued through the spookiest of forests by unseen demons. Somehow they pulled it off though, leaving behind their tapes for searchers to find, before disappearing off the face of the Earth. The ending was vague, with no witch being seen or bodies found.
And all this took place in the scariest thickets of Maryland…you know, in the dark, vast forest between Baltimore and Bethesda.
But now, finally, seventeen years later, Heather’s brother decides it’s high time to head out to the woods to look for her. The trail is as cold as a witch’s tit, yet he manages to put together a little team of six smart-alecks –all of whom have video cameras– and drags their asses out in to the bush.
And here is where the yawning begins. For it is in these dark, sinister woods that the exact same things happen to these punks that happened to the first three: creepy stick figures are hung from the trees around their tents as they sleep; every time they try to leave the woods, they find they’ve circled back to the same place; eerie sounds are heard in the night, but nothing is seen.
And how could anything be seen? For any time a twig snaps, all six characters go berserk, shouting and running blindly through the trees, robbing the forest of its eerie power and making for highly unwatchable footage. The forest is continually upstaged by these frenetic hams, as swirling, dizzying camera-work captures their boisterous bullshit, scaring off any demon within a mile’s radius.
One modern addition to the witch hunt is the use of a drone that they try to photograph the woods from above with. Unfortunately, the out-of-place gadget gets stuck in a tree, which one terrified character has to climb in the dark to try and free. Have you ever climbed a towering conifer in the darkness while managing to film yourself doing it at the same time? No you haven’t, but that’s exactly what happens here; just like in the first film, these youngsters are amazingly coordinated and adept at keeping the cameras constantly rolling.
Ultimately these heroic jackasses make their way to the same abandoned house where the first film ended. This time we’re given the grand tour of the facility, from attic to basement (which does have some creepy, root-choked tunnels), and various characters meet their fate here.
But lo and behold, if you can believe it, this time the cameras manage to catch a glimpse of the Blair Witch herself. Or at least I think it must have been her: in three or four quick flashes we see a skeletal creature that looks somewhat like an animated turnip.
But just like the first time, a final clonk on the head results in the last camera becoming unmanned, lying on the floor still turned on. And that is where our little story comes to an end.
Hopefully this time all family members will let sleeping dogs lie, and no further searches will be conducted.
I heartily recommend this film to 14-year-olds who have never seen a horror movie on the big screen, and want to have reason to cuddle up in the back. Making out with musky Junior Mint breath, screams deafening your ears…these are the makings of golden memories. Have fun, kids. For everyone else, I have but one thing to say: stay the hell out of those woods.