The "Blair Witch" is back for your soul
Writer: Casey Chong
One of the frightening moments in "Blair Witch".
Found footage in the horror genre may have been an overused cinematic medium these days, but 17 years ago, found footage used to be a novelty factor when the original "Blair Witch Project" debuted in 1999 to overwhelming response.
The micro-budgeted horror movie, which centred on the disappearance of three documentary film students following their doomed visit to the Maryland forest for filming the Blair Witch legend, proved to be hugely profitable at the worldwide box office.
It even inspired countless other horror filmmakers to embrace the art of found footage and not to forget, a much-maligned sequel a year after called "Book Of Shadows - Blair Witch 2".
Fast-forward to present day, who could have thought that Lionsgate would surprise everyone at this year's San Diego Comic-Con with an unexpected sequel to "The Blair Witch Project"?
Just like how "10 Cloverfield Lane" was revealed a few months ago, you have to admit it was an ingenious marketing strategy for a movie originally titled as "The Woods" before it eventually revealed its true nature as a "Blair Witch" sequel.
Now that the much-anticipated "Blair Witch" is about to arrive in cinemas, here are our five reasons why you should be ready to watch this upcoming horror movie.
1. Directed by Adam Wingard
Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett on the set of "Blair Witch".
Now, you might be asking, "Who the heck is Adam Wingard?" He may not be a commercially-known horror director, like say, James Wan of "Saw" and "The Conjuring" fame. But many genre fans would have recognised some of his acclaimed works including the horror anthology "V/H/S" and its sequel, the crafty home-invasion thriller "You're Next" and also the genre-bending action thriller "The Guest". With "Blair Witch", he seems only perfect to direct the sequel to the legendary 1999 original. After all, "Blair Witch" already screened to various US critics to huge positive acclaim.
2. This is an official sequel to "The Blair Witch Project"
The cast of "Blair Witch".
Wait... but what about "Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2"? Well, that much-maligned sequel seems to be largely ignored in favour for this year's "Blair Witch" instead. This official sequel would be faithful to 1999 original, as the movie continues with James (James Allen McCune) and his friends embarking on their journey to the forest to locate James' long-lost sister, Heather Donahue.
3. The return of found footage
Callie Hernandez in a scene from "Blair Witch".
In case you have forgotten, "Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" was largely filmed in a standard movie format, but luckily Adam Wingard and cinematographer Robby Baumgartner wisely retained the original's found-footage format by filming the sequel with its trademark shaky camerawork. Whereas the original utilises the '90s bulky camcorder, Wingard and Baumgartner embraces today's modern gadgets such as earpiece cam and drone to film the sequel. It's no secret that some of the viewers did complain about the original's shaky-cam approach which made them sick after watching it in the cinema, still, the shaky-cam technique was part of the major reasons that contributed the enormous success of the original. Given the fact that Wingard is no stranger to the horror genre, it would be interesting to see what he can do creatively with the found-footage format.
4. The movie will delve deep into the Blair Witch mythology
Remember that wooden stick figure?
One of the most interesting aspects of "The Blair Witch Project" is the ambiguous yet terrifying urban legend surrounding the Blair Witch. In this sequel, Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett would address some of the unanswered questions previously left in the original while offering a fresh twist at the same time.
5. There will be plenty of shocking moments
A scene from "Blair Witch".
One thing is for sure, "Blair Witch" isn't merely designed as a desperate cash-grab to capitalise the success of the original 17 years ago. As proven in his past filmography, Wingard knows well about the horror genre like the back of his hand. And in "Blair Witch", you can expect a few genuinely frightening moments to scare the viewers using sound design and classic visual shocks.
Cinema Online, 12 September 2016
"Blair Witch" opens in the cinemas nationwide on 15 September 2016.