Belated found footage sequel delivers solid scares and a sensational Dolby Atmos mix
The Blair Witch Project (1999) is one of the major cinematic milestones of the past two decades. But any attempt at turning it into a franchise was killed stone dead by the diabolical Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows (2000). Or so we thought…
Initially produced and promoted under the false title The Woods, this new Blair Witch from filmmaking duo Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (of You’re Next and The Guest fame) finds four friends heading out into the Black Hills Forests in an attempt to discover what really happened all those years ago. What follows is essentially more of the same, albeit with fancy new camera equipment (including head-cams and a drone) giving it more visual dynamism.
However, while this Blair Witch initially feels like nothing more than a somewhat larger budget remake of the original, as the film progresses it gradually starts to take on a life of its own. Striving for any sort of documentary realism is junked in favour of Wingard and Barrett wanting to simply freak you out; something they achieve through a proliferation of jump scares and unsettling time-bending tricks before taking you back to that derelict house for a genuinely nerve-shredding final act.
Picture: Like its predecessor, Blair Witch was shot on a variety of formats (albeit all digital this time) and this leads to a 1.85:1-framed 1080p Blu-ray encode that is prone to shifts in quality depending on the source of any particular shot. For the most part the actual image resolution is generally good, although some cameras bring their own issues regarding clarity and pixelisation. On top of this, further digital defects and glitches were purposefully added in post production.
Picture rating: 3.5/5
Audio: If the film's image quality is something of a (deliberate) mishmash, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is reference quality. Following a relatively low-key opening act, the first night in the forest sees the soundmix up its game as it attempts to scare the hell out of you. It's inventive and precise, with doomy dollops of LFE. From then on it rarely backs off, constantly employing every speaker – including your height channels – to delightful effect.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: The filmmakers deliver a self-deprecating chat-track that discusses the film's box office failure as well as its production. Even more informative is the 107-minute Neverending Night: The Making of Blair Witch, which covers the entire production process in exacting detail. A tour of the house set rounds out the disc's trio of enjoyable extras.
Extras rating: 3.5/5
We say: This satisfying horror sequel/reboot/remake sports a scarily good Atmos soundtrack and some excellent bonus bits
Blair Witch, Lionsgate, Region B BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 3.5/5
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