We were already thrilled about the prospect of the duo behind A Horrible Way To Die, You’re Next and The Guest working on a very scary movie, so the revelation that Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s The Woods was a Blair Witch Project sequel in disguise was thrilling, if slightly nerve-wracking. It needn’t have been. From watching this updated trip to Burkittsville, it’s clear that they love The Blair Witch Project just as much as we do.
James (James Allen McCune) was just four years old when his sister, Heather, vanished in the woods, but new footage seems to suggest that she might still be out there. With three friends and two eager guides, he travels there to see if there’s any trace of that mysterious house where the three students went missing, or that infamous Blair Witch. They’ll find more than a trace.
Die-hard fans of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s modern classic can rest assured that this new Blair Witch treats the original with a huge amount of respect, and although it’s a sequel with plenty of nice little ties to the 1999 movie, it’s pretty much the same story: kids go to woods in search of a legend, kids get lost and terrorised, and now their 2014 footage has been found.
That being said, while the plot is similar, the filmmakers find plenty of ways to play with the formula with some nifty twists later on. The characters are well written with believable motivations, the acting is excellent across the board, and there’s a self-aware sense of humour. And when it comes time to bring the scares, Blair Witch delivers.
Wingard ratchets up the tension slowly but surely before unleashing some brilliant shocks. It has definitely got more effects and gore gags than its predecessor, but it doesn’t over-do it. It’s more about quick jolts with little discernible
detail for the most part, although the finale does threaten to tip into over-exposure.
Blair Witch isn’t going to change the landscape of horror, but it’s a worthy successor to a true classic, and you’ll have a brilliant time watching it because, more importantly than anything else, this is what we were promised: a very scary movie.