The Blair Witch (2016) Review



I don’t normally trust remakes/sequels/reboots; it’s just a general rule I have. There are very few sequels that meet my cinematic expectation (except The Empire Strikes Back). So, having heard very mixed reviews, ranging from it being a solid good follow-up to The Blair Witch Project (1999) to it being complete garbage, I did not know what to expect when I walked into the theater. It currently has a 5.8 on Rotten Tomatoes, the score I expected it would get when I first saw the poster for the movie in the AMC Clearview hallway. However, when I saw the trailer, I saw (or rather, I didn’t see) something that gave me a little hope for this movie; they didn’t include a single frame of the actual Blair Witch herself. Now, one of the main reasons the original movie was so scary was that they never actually showed the Witch. Everything was seen through the eyes of an old video camera. This is something I had hoped to see brought back in the sequel, because it really ratcheted up the tension and made it much more cinematically terrifying. All in all, I’m not sure what to expect from this movie, but I had some hope that it would be good.


The Spoiler Free Review:

When I walked into the theater, I nearly fell to my knees laughing. It was completely empty. I was totally alone, and it actually added to the experience. The Blair Witch’s plot centers on the younger brother of Heather, James, the protagonist of The Blair Witch Project, the original film. The footage at the end of the original movie is discovered by residents of Burkittesville (Blair County). This prompts James to take a couple friends (of whom one of is a student director and wants to take the opportunity to make a movie) to go to Burkittesville, meet with the people who found and posted the video, and travel deep into the Black Hills Forest to try and discover the truth of what happen to his sister seventeen years ago.

This movie takes place in modern times, and given that technology has vastly improved since 1999, the film is shot in a very different way than The Blair Witch Project.  In the original movie, only Heather had a camera, and we mostly see the experience through her eyes. However, in The Blair Witch, all the main characters have shoulder cams as well as mounted cameras, and a camera drone, which was a very creative way of  getting better shots and angles of the forest. They also have walkie-talkies, but all the technology (save for one spoiler) is useless against the infamous witch.

Characters and Acting:       

I feel like the actors in this movie were ok in the slow parts of the first act in the movie, but their performances really shine during the tense second act and mind boggling third act, putting on a completely believable façade of pure terror and confusion. There were some ham-fisted lines here and there for expositions sake, but besides that, the dialogue was well scripted and acted.


When the witch starts working her evil magic, the plot doesn’t take as much of a turn, but rather a blindfolded-backwards cliff dive, and for this kind of movie that’s not a bad thing. When the defecation starts to hit the oscillation, all thoughts of finding Heather and making a movie fall away, and the simplest, but most effective, motivation emerges: escape.


Was it scary: 

Yes. However, I think that the right circumstances need to be met to experience this movie in the scariest way. First, I would suggest you do NOT wait for this movie to come out on DVD, because I think it would detract from almost all the tension and scares. Viewing this movie in a pitch black theater with a loud sound system and not sitting next to anyone is the right way to watch this film. Having the constricted view of a found footage film is a trick view-point to make it scary. Like the original, this movie nails it, for the most part, keeping the audience on their toes. If you like movies that build up tension, sometimes only to tease you with no jump  scare or reveal, this movie is for you.


Noah’s Speculations:

In this section, I’ll be examining the confusing and unclear elements of the film with my opinions and theories.

The Witch, her powers, and how the Creepy Spider Thing isn’t actually the Witch:

As I said before, the movie actually shows the Blair Witch… or does it? During the final act of the film, when James first enters the cabin, he sees a flash of the silhouette of a woman in a white cloth dress. This is never explained, but more on that later.

So, throughout the film, we get to see some of the Blair Witch’s true power. As we see when Lane and his girlfriend reunite with the main group, who Lane and his girlfriend haven’t seen for FIVE DAYS, whereas the main group saw them that morning, demonstrating the Witch’s power to control time differently for different people. At the end of the film, when Lisa encounters Lane again, we can see that time has passed even more for him, as he now has a full beard. On the same note, the main groups alarm’s go off at seven, but it’s still night outside. This tells us that the Blair Witch has the power to manipulate time within the forest, to the point at which she can segment off parts of the forest to move at different times. Also, as Lisa is running from the Spider Thing in the cabin, the film shows that what the audience is watching at the end is the same footage that Lane found, posted to YouTube, and prompted the main group to go to the forest in the first place. This level of planning and clever manipulation of time shows that not only is the Witch ludicrously powerful, but that she’s also very intelligent and clever. While Lisa and James are running through the house, (which happens to be right next to a landmark that the group passed with no house in sight) it appears as if the halls and rooms are never ending, suggesting that the Witch also has the ability to manipulate space. This theory is helped by the fact that when Lisa sends the drone up, they can’t see any roads, clearings, or any signs of life. At the very end of the film, James appears to be talking to Heather, but we can’t hear who he’s talking to.  Lisa then hears James, even though we know that the Witch took him. This shows that the Witch can talk directly to people without others hearing, suggesting that she can do serious psychological damage.

However, I don’t think that the thing that grabs Lisa and James at the end of the movie, the Spider Thing, is the actual Blair Witch. Remember how I mentioned the woman in the white dress that James sees? I think that she is the spirit, ghost, what have you, of the Blair Witch. Though it would seem that the Spider Thing is the Witch because of its long limbs due to how the Witch was punished (stones were hung to her limbs and she was stretched), who says that the spirit couldn’t have controlled someone and done it to another person? We can see she has the power to control and influence people like how she told Lane to attack Lisa. What I thought when I came out of the theater was that the Witch was the ghost, an ethereal being, and the Spider Thing was a previous victim of the Witch, still under her spell and bending to her will.




Edited by Katherine Vogt and Emmy Pilant