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  Blair Witch Beyond The Forest
Year: 2016
Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Fifteen years ago, something strange happened in the woods around the small town of Burkittsville as three young documentary makers went missing while in pursuit of a project focused on the local legend of the Blair Witch, a sinister character who may or may not have existed but had a sinister reputation nonetheless. Nobody knows what happened to the trio, but they did leave their camera footage behind and the brother of the sole female member has been trying to work out what happened to them ever since. Now he has gathered together some state of the art cameras and gadgets to collect his own footage, feeling certain he will be able to get to the source of both the legend and his sister's vanishing...

It was a big secret, this film, its trailer released suddenly with a small handful of weeks before its premiere, shot without anyone but its creators being aware of its existence. Those original directors, Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, were on board in a producing capacity this time around, as they handed the reins to Adam Wingard and his regular partner in crime Simon Barrett on writing duties, a pair who were fast making a name for themselves with smart, if referential, horrors that picked up a following. They made sure to make no reference to the first sequel to The Blair Witch Project, since not only had that been a financial and critical disaster, but hardly anyone recalled its existence.

However, once this had been unleashed on the world, there was a sense that few were particularly bothered about a new Blair Witch movie; it did OK at the box office, and was by no means as unsuccessful as Book of Shadows, its predecessor, but there was a big difference between a world that was before the Blair Witch and one after it. After it, the cinematic universe became addicted to its at one time innovative use of found footage as a technique to tell the story; lest we forget, there had been an ingenious advertising campaign to generate the huge interest in the first effort which blurred the lines between fantasy and reality by suggesting this was all true, even though after seeing the film it quite clearly was not.

This follow-up went the route of assuming that the audience still thought it was true, presenting yet more found footage in an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, but whereas the source had at least a convincing interplay between the improvising actors, here Wingard could not bring that authenticity to what was obviously scripted, especially when most of the dialogue consisted of the cast calling out the names of the other characters, often to the point of distraction. Seriously, minutes of screen time would go by with the only dialogue heard as one actor yelling another name over and over ad nauseam, which did little to endear the production to much of the potential audience and suggested a lot more innovation had been needed to make this one fly, fly better than the drone camera, at any rate.

Wingard and Barrett assembled their six stooges and proceeded to frighten the life out of them, fictionally anyway, having them wander the woods and break into a run, then various weird happenings would befall them that pared them down to a couple of folks in that house the first film ended in. All the usual criticisms applied, the inane conversations to mark time between the scares, the way the characters filmed everything no matter how much danger they were in, but speaking of those frights, Wingard couldn't get enough of them, leaving whole passages of his movie taken up with jump scare after jump scare. By the half hour mark, it was getting beyond a joke, and was resembling the amateurism of the original but not in a good way, not to mention that we never really got to know the potential victims therefore could not give a fig for any of them: none of the action informed their personalities, it simply shoved them around from jump to jump. The initial work had tested the patience of many, but that was about the only thing this was faithful to, a big disappointment from these filmmakers. Music by Wingard.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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