“Just pretend 1999 didn’t occur and you’ll be satisfied.”- me

Image result for blair witch poster

So the team behind this movie was crafty in promoting it. Just over a month ago, they rolled out a limited teaser and called it The Woods. And then they pulled the curtains back to inform us that this was, in fact, the next Blair Witch installment. The trend to bring back fantastic movies from two decades continues.  It can be a hit (good morning, Jurassic World) or a miss (tell ya’ mom I said “hey,” Independence Day: Resurgence). The sad reveal is that this, too, is a miss. Let me shower you with reasons why this is actually a good horror flick, though!

If you imagine Blair Witch Project was never created, this movie is top-shelf.  It paces very well, and carries a sense of dread- making you wonder just what all the fuss is about regarding this alleged witch.  The sound effects they use are remarkable, leaving the imagination to truly wonder wtf that noize izzzz!  Quality of film has become technically enhanced in this day and age, so we say goodbye to grainy screens- wondering if something was a shadow or a tree- and ahoy! to being able to see a bit beyond the flashlights and even above and beyond (literally- eye roll emoji) with the help of a drone.

*Spoilers ahead!*

 

The buildup has not been worth it in a while with horror movies. But the last 25 minutes made this movie great for me.  They show the witch the perfect length of time without overdoing it (a la Mama) and making the movie still scary if you re-watch it. Her appearance makes sense, given her history of being hanged and weighed down with rocks as the stories say. I. LOVE. IT! Also, this movie introduced new powers and realms of the witch with time warps.  It seems silly, but in retrospect, this adds more logistics to the concept of the movie concerning the house not being found, losing their way in the woods, and control of day and night.

 

*Spoilers be gone now.*

The pitfalls of this movie seemingly outweigh the positives, however. Yes, the pace of the movie is great, but it replicated the original movie. This leads anyone who saw the first movie down the path of knowing exactly what to expect.  In terms of originality, then, Blair Witch comes out empty-pocketed. Additionally, characterization, while still just a horror movie, is tossed aside and forces us to ultimately not care what happens to them. The plot and drive of Blair Witch is forced when it didn’t have to be. The main character finds a Youtube video of found footage in the woods that he thinks might be his sister from the first installment….. right?? Let that simmer. So, almost two decades later, he wants to go look for her because he feels she may still be alive…decades later….in the woods….alone….naked…(wishful thinking). I’m just saying, they could have made this movie take place months later after the original, but noooooooooOOOOooOOoO, THEY HAD TO USE A DRONE!

C+

the-hunger-games-movie-poster_411x649

the-hunger-games-movie-poster_411x649

the-hunger-games-movie-poster_411x649

I’m biased because I read the first book, dragged myself through the second, and am trying to finish the third before I finish myself off.  So the good first.  The movie itself was nicely styled, putting great detail into the Capitol and the rich folk that inhabit the area.  And I will admit the did the book justice for the most part, adhering to a comfortable 85% of the book. Also, there was some great acting by Katniss’ Jennifer Lawrence (who definitely just gave herself a name if she didn’t so before with Mystique in X-Men: First Class).  Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville…really?) had some smooth moves in directing this little number.  The action was not too often, and when it was, it wasn’t pompous like a blockbuster would be.

This segways to the not-so-good.  The shaky-camera does not work for me unless it’s Blair Witch Project.  Maybe I’m getting old, but I was seldom able to see what the fuck was going on in the intense scenes because the cameraman was having a seizure.  Most importantly, people who watch The Hunger Games who did not read the book will be baffled by the characters and their relationships.  The book itself used a shovel to dig into the dynamics between characters, whereas the movie was more concerned with making it look like Katniss was prettier without makeup while wearing makeup.  Case in point: Katniss and Rue (in the movie) meant nothing to me. NOTHING! Good movie though.

a good ol’ Brian home media review: Apollo 18

Blair Witch Project? In space? What can be bad about this?” I thought this to myself upon standing in front of a local RedBox, naked. The lackluster trailer and fact that this movie made shit at the box office should have tipped me off.  As the credits rolled as they were just prefaced about how it was actual footage, I felt like I only watched the first 3/4ths of the movie.  Yes, there’s a decent amount of silent suspense peppered with foolish in-your-face scares (waking up from sleeping, a camera shaking, a rock moving, I wish I was exaggerating).   As a professional film director, I felt there were endless possibilities with various scenes in this movie to make it actually suspenseful and/or scary.  Scenario: in a cave with a flash bulb that puts out light every few seconds, make an alien attack an astronaut! Of course that doesn’t happen; instead there is pracitally a bed and breakfast scene with the aliens. Ultimately, Apollo 18 falls short on actual scares, actual alien encounters, and an actual ending (the DVD/Blu-Ray offers four, yes, four alternate endings and about 20 deleted/alternate scenes).  This should tell you something about the movie: save your $1.64 Check out Wendy’s new breakfast menu!

A quick minute-by-minute guide:

**MINOR SPOILERS UP AHEAD**

1-10 mins: lots of talking and debriefing and a noise

10-30: unnecessary shaky camera footage; the aliens commit theft

30-60: hermit crabs as pets in Floridian gift shops and a zombie astronaut

60-86: heavy breathing, thoughts of feeling underwhelmed, and concern for movie’s lack of a big alien finish