Sneak Peek: Blair Witch
A group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of James’ sister who many believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when a pair of locals offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods, but as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence. Slowly, they begin to realize the legend is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.
Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Valorie Curry, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Runtime: 89 minutes
This transcript has been lightly edited:
The Referee: Ruh-roh! Halloween is upon us! (laughs spookily)
The Critic: Is it?
Ref: Well, I don’t know. I don’t celebrate Halloween. But, you did get a Sneak Peek, Critic, at the new “Blair Witch” movie, which is coming out September 16 — yes, this Friday — and they’re hoping to scare your pants off! Well, we know that Adam Wingard directed it, and it was written by Simon Barrett. Now, this is the third installment, the third “Blair Witch” movie. Whether it’s in succession or not, I am not sure; we’ll find out. What started everything was “The Blair Witch Project” (laughs spookily). It came out in 1999. Everybody was frightened and scared. The question really is: Did this reboot do it justice? We’ll find out. Let’s see: What do you think?
Critic: That’s right. And, you called it a reboot: That’s instructive, everybody. OK? (laughing) Let’s just say that.
Ref: (laughs) Well, let’s get into this.
Critic: Yeah, you know, I saw “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999, in the theaters, and I liked it! I was entertained by it. You know, some people had motion sickness, Ref. They were vomiting in the aisles. (laughs)
Ref: Oh, my gosh!
Critic: That didn’t happen at my screening. So, it was a big thing, because, at the time — you know, the shaky camera because it’s found-footage — it was new for people to see that kind of film, and it really divided people. So, now we have the third film in this whole mythology. But, unlike the second one, this time it is about a group of people, again, going back into the woods to find the Blair Witch. But, this time, it’s the brother of the female who was in the first “Blair Witch Project.” That’s what’s happening there. So, he’s actually on the hunt to figure out what happened to her [his sister]. Is she still in this house? Can they find the house? Because, no one could find it. He brings along a documentarian. She’s (laughter) doing a little project. Yes.
Ref: Sounds like trouble.
Critic: Exactly. So, she’s doing her project, which is just about him. He’s the subject: his search for his sister who was lost years ago. Because, this is 2014. So, it’s 15 years later, since that movie. He also brings along his best friend who, actually, helped search for his sister years ago. And, his best friend brings along his [the best friend’s] girlfriend. OK?
Ref: Oh, it’s just the ingredient for trouble — all the ingredients for trouble.
Critic: So, they’re all going back in. Now, they need the help of two people — Lane and Talia, their character names — who know where they found this footage. They know how to get back to this place, and, hopefully, they can find the house that houses the Blair Witch.
Ref: Mm-hm. Ooh. Ah.
Critic: Now, when they get to Lane’s and Talia’s house to, you know, figure out how to get there, Lane and Talia say, “No, we have to go along with you guys. Sorry.” The four of them thought that they were gonna just do it alone. Oh, no! And, of course, they’re [Lane and Talia are] weird. They even have a Confederate flag hanging in their home. And two of the friends, the boyfriend and girlfriend, they are black. OK? So —
Ref: Ha! And, they get killed first! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!
Critic: Just hold onto that. So, the six of them go into the woods. And, we know what happens, because, again, this is another found-footage horror film. If they found the footage, that means that no one survived.
Critic: Now, the question is this: Who’s the threat? Is it Lane and Talia, those weirdos that bring them into the woods? Is it the Blair Witch? Or, is it something else?
Ref: Ooh. Oh. Mm.
Critic: Mm. Now, this is under an hour and a half, which is good.
Ref: Yes, any horror film should be.
Critic: Yeah, just under. And now for my review —
Critic: I liked the actors. Like, liked them: You know, I like what they did; I like how they casted it.
Critic: Um, that’s about it.
Ref: Oh, wow.
Critic: I am sorry to say, everybody, I was not entertained, which is what I really want. Just entertain me with a horror movie, or, if not, scare me. This did neither. I was tense, and I was actually grossed out in certain moments: There is a subplot that happens to the girlfriend, Ashley Bennett —
Critic: — that is disgusting. And that’s about it. It’s just disgusting. So, see, if you’re going to the movies to see a horror movie, you want some sort of catharsis, some sort of reaction, you know —
Critic: — all of that. I mean, you just don’t get it. Now, the technology’s better, because this is 2014. So, the cameras are better —
Critic: They have a drone that they even use, right? And, what they did — like, it makes sense who was shooting what. That was good. But, the thing is, for horror movies — and this is what I was thinking about, Ref —
Critic: In a horror movie, it’s all about the setup.
Critic: It really is. You really gotta get us primed to scream, to be scared, to laugh. That didn’t happen; it was, just, dull to me. I thought it could’ve used even a little more humor, if that’s what they needed to do.
Ref: Do you think they were relying on you reliving moments from “Blair With Project”? Or, were there some inside things? I’m just trying to salvage this.
Critic: Well, “The Blair Witch Project” is what it is. If you’re going to do it again — that’s what it feels like, you’re doing it again — then the question is: What is new? What am I learning new?
Critic: And the new stuff was — I was just like, whatever. I mean, it was even confusing: Who’s supposed to be the scary part here? What’s the actual threat? It wasn’t quite clear. That was my issue with it. Is it horrible? No, I wouldn’t say it’s horrible, but I just don’t see the need for it.
Critic: So, you know, there you go. I mean, if you haven’t seen “The Blair Witch Project,” I don’t even know if I would say watch it now. It is of its time. It’s a 1999 thing. It is going to the movies to see it, being in there, listening to people scream, laughing at them. If you’ve seen it and you see this, you’re really gonna go, “All right, they’ve updated it, but there’s not much here for me to really pull from and enjoy.” Now, Ref, you mentioned —
Ref: I did.
Critic: — black people go when in horror movies?
Ref: They die first! Why?! (laughs)
Critic: I just wanna say, everybody: What happens to them is indicative of this film. OK? (laughter) So, that’s all I gotta say.
Ref: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! (laughing) You can’t leave me hanging. (laughter) I need a little bit more, just a tiny, tiny bit more.
Critic: What would you hope to happen to those characters?
Ref: They get free and leave and run and —
Critic: Well, now, to be fair: It is a found-footage horror movie —
Ref: (sighing in disgust) Uh.
Critic: So, that’s probably not going to happen, but you’d hope that they —
Ref: They did the last stand! Yes. (laughs)
Critic: Mm-hm. So, you listened to my review, overall. I’m ending it right there, everybody. (laughter) OK? I was sittin’ there going, “Now, ya’ll better do something new with them. Y’all better do something new.” … Duh, duh, duh! (laughter) I’m not going to … (laughter)
Ref: I tell you what: Sometimes you get it right, and sometimes you don’t. But, you can check out “Blair Witch” September 16, this Friday, if you ever should dare.