“Do Blairs Witch in the Woods” Blair Witch review


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Written by Rob Stoakes

Oh come on!

I thought video gaming was the realm of terrible, reductive sequel names, what with Thief being the fourth Thief game and Wolfenstein following on from Escape from Castle Wolfenstein 3D, but I guess 2016 is the year that Hollywood catches the same awful virus.

Jason Bourne was the first sign of infection, but now we have Blair Witch as the point it goes terminal. It isn’t even grammatically correct.

“Hello, Mrs Witch? Can Blair come out to play?”

So The Wicked Witch of the Blair has actually got a fairly strong start. It’s a slow burner, something nice to see in the era of modern horror becoming a protracted ghost train ride, as the film drags you into the woods and takes a good long time to pull you into the forest. It also has decent actors playing characters who don’t just bumble in like idiots.

They’re well prepared with lots of different cameras for maximum scary potential, are believable if a bit bland, and at the first time of danger they immediately decide to leave rather than split up like every other group of horror characters. So we have a good horror build-up and good horror characters, now all it needs to be is scary.

… ooops.

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Photo by Lionsgate.

Most other genres can get away with certain elements not working; if the action’s a bit dull in an action movie, it can get away with it with a neat story and some one-liners. Horror doesn’t get that privilege. This could have been an Orson Welles project starring Peter O’Toole and the Prophet Mohammad and it wouldn’t make any one of Paddington Blair Witch‘s tired, lazy “SUDDENLY THERE’S A BANG” jumpscares an iota scarier than someone throwing a tennis ball at you.

How did a film all about tension and quiet paranoia suddenly become Lights Out during The Hunger Games? Well, it’s quite simple; Do Blairs Witch In Woods is a textbook example of Total Recall Syndrome. For the trainee doctors amongst you, TRS is easily identified by the following symptons;

1) Being a remake or sequel of a story that didn’t need one.

2) Having all of the superficial elements of a film but on a bigger budget.

3) Making an underground and unique story more like other films to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

4) Completely missing what made the original a hit in the first place.

 Please refer to case studies Robocop, The Thing and Blues Brothers in your textbooks. Big Trouble in Little China is currently undergoing treatment in the early stages of infection.

Actually, the comparison to Lights Out might be a little unfair, because Pokemon Blair and Witch has something that no modern horror dares to have anymore; blood! Well, a bit of blood. Someone spills some tomato juice on their leg. But I’ll take it as it’s just about the only thing that divides Witchie the Pooh Blair from every other horror film on the map.

So once the first half is done and Tony Blair: The Witch Years is done looking exactly like the first one (“See, it’s not a remake because there’s six people crying in the woods, not three. Totally different story”), it then settles into a nice groove of looking like every other horror coming out in the next two months.

All of those exciting new cameras the characters use? They’re only there to explain why they aren’t all holding cameras in each shot, and then that’s it. The characters? Slowly get dumber as the film goes on, like the blandness is literally melting their brains. The villain? Say it with me now, a homeless person in need of a haircut and a manicure.

This is horror by committee, perhaps of people who’ve never seen a horror film and been asked to make one. By no means incompetent, but so lacking in heart and uniqueness that it’s just a dull watch, of interest only to those with a crippling fear of garden centres that they want to cure themselves of.

Category Scoring out of 5 ⭐
Story/Plot ⭐ 1/2
Acting/Vocal Performance ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Special Effects/Cinematography ⭐ ⭐ 1/2
Soundtrack 1/2
Costume/Design ⭐ ⭐
Script/Dialogue ⭐ ⭐
RATING ⭐ ⭐

If you’re hungry for more of Rob Stoakes’ rantings, or want to hear what the world of comedy thinks of Blair Witch, then check out the Battleship Potemkast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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