Sidewinder’s View: “Blair Witch” (2016)

From 2016, last night’s bedtime movie. I really wanted to like this, particularly since its writing-directing team, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, made The Guest, which I really liked, and You’re Next, which I loved. In checking his credits on IMDb, I realized that Barrett also wrote 2004’s Dead Birds, another underrated gem of modern Horror which I really enjoyed.

Looking at this team’s track record, I thought, How could this possibly be unworthy of my time?

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What a waste. Not horrible. Just a sheer and utter waste of my time. Honestly, about halfway through this picture, I began waxing nostalgic for the suspense, characterization and atmosphere of this┬ámovie….

friday-the-13th-part-ii-collage

…and I’m only partially kidding.

Blair Witch was that lame and uninvolving.

From the time I was four or five years old up until the last few years, I really used to love the Horror genre, developing an appreciation early on for the good, the bad and everything in between.

Most of what I’ve seen over the past 20 or 25 years, though, just hasn’t appealed to me in the same way those earlier movies did. The last ten years, with a relative handful of exceptions, have been even drearier.

Maybe I’m just too old now to really enjoy new Horror movies. Maybe I’ve already seen the best the genre has to offer and I’m too familiar with all the tricks and tropes (jump scares, characters behaving stupidly for the sake of setting up the next jump scare or unsurprising plot turn, etc).

I wasn’t a fan of The Blair Witch Project, but it had its moments. This new movie’s a more expensive remake of sorts, in terms of character behavior and story.

I expected something creepier and more clever than just sobbing, bickering characters tediously running around and around in circles through the woods, and later through a decrepit maze of a house, while the action devolves into a mish-mash of chaotic handheld camerawork with a few barely glimpsed moments of monstrous entities in corners.

I expected the filmmakers to break from the formula used in the original film, not recycle it.

Both You’re Next and The Guest had clever, fairly unpredictable stories and compelling characters, so I know the creative team had the capability to make something better than this. Blair Witch was lazy and cynical modern Horror filmmaking from a pair of talented filmmakers who dropped the ball this time.

And I paid $20 to take a chance on this thing. Joke’s on me, I guess.

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