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Review: 'Blair Witch'

I was able to see “Blair Witch” during a free advanced screening at Regal Hollywood 20 earlier this week. It is rated R and, of course, I wouldn’t recommend it for kids, but anyone excited about a date night opportunity should read on. I remember seeing “The Blair Witch Project” in theaters 17 years ago on a date and feeling majorly letdown because I found it infinitely boring, kind of annoying and not the least bit scary.

Maybe I don't scare easily. I don't know.

Sadly, I felt much the same after seeing this sequel, which utilizes much of the same plot and scare gimmicks, with none of the innovativeness of the first film in the series. At least “The Blair Witch Project” founded the found-footage horror genre while proving that low-budget, independent movies could bring in audiences.

“Blair Witch,” directed by Adam Wingard, picks up 15 years after the first film with a new young female documentary filmmaker, Lisa (Callie Hernandez), filming her friend James (James Allen McCune), who happens to be the brother of Heather, one of three people who went missing in “The Blair Witch Project.” James was only 4 at the time of Heather’s disappearance, but he’s compelled to go searching for her after he sees new video footage posted online. It's more shaky camera footage, but it appears to show his sister in more footage than what was found in the original movie.

Together with their best friends, Peter and Ashley, and two Burkittsville locals, Lane and Talia, Lisa and James venture into the same woods where Heather disappeared — despite finding a sign warning people not to enter the woods after dark. From there, the six young people fall victim to strange sounds outside their tents, peculiar injuries, and other odd events until the terror escalates.

I’m sure I’m in the minority when I say I did like “Blair Witch” better than “The Blair Witch Project” — there’s far less profanity, the pacing is better, and the characters more likable — but overall, it’s basically a rip-off of the first movie with similar events happening to new characters straight up to the ending, which is more drawn out but also a lot of the same.

If you’re a fan of horror, the first movie, and looking for a date night movie, you might enjoy this one. There were certainly loud screams of fear from some young women in my screening, so someone thought this movie was scary. It just wasn’t me.

“Blair Witch” is rated R for language, terror and some disturbing images, and it’s now playing in theaters nationwide.