Saturday, 17 September 2016
Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick's The Blair Witch Project was designed as a document, ideally discovered as a dupe cassette, then experienced without knowledge of its artifice. This was filmed testimony, a narrative found and solemnly assembled out of hours and hours of hysterical footage; supernatural snuff working in concert with a dead actor PR campaign on loan from Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust. For their pass at the material, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard account for the deluge of shaky cam films that have followed, taking the same basic misadventure premise then beating in a succession of fun house zaps.
Rather than replay the original's short days, long nights structure, Barrett and Wingard transport their characters to a timeless, hostile environment that aggressively distends the situational horror. So instead of methodically building dread, Blair Witch jettisons reality, positing a more overtly supernatural enemy that now has complete dominion over every aspect of her space. The central threat is no longer an invisible prankster, she's the land itself. Thanks to Wes Robinson's vlogger, we pick up a few scraps of trivia regarding The Witch's torturous passing, and a further insinuation that she bled deep into the Earth and took hold of it. Wingard's take may lack the original's loping intensity but his film's booming sound design and harsh, corrupted cutting envelops the audience in a series of jolts that'd have William Castle grinning.