I was a big fan of the original The Blair Witch Project back in 1999, but I was skeptical about the 2016 version. Blair Witch 2016 had a disappointing box office and looks like it’s not going to become a legend like its predecessor. I’m not surprised since this was a movie nobody wanted in the first place.
Part of the mystique that made the original popular was a mix of mystery and novelty. The found footage film wasn’t a common format and filmmakers played up that aspect by making everyone question if it was a real legend and event or something just made up.
Even I was a little fooled and watched the mini documentaries about the series and really dove into the mythology. Of course, we all know it was fake, but at the time, the grainy pictures and crazy camera shaking gave it a realism that wasn’t seen before in main stream movies.
They tried to build on that a year later with more a standard and larger budget movie, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Many blame the studio for inserting scenes and making it more main stream horror movie, but whatever happened it was deplorable.
Since that time, found footage film have become a staple for small independent filmmakers and even the occasional big fish. Why? They’re cheap to make. You don’t need big stars weighing down your budget. Shaky cameras and rudimentary effects are all part of the atmosphere. There have been some really good and really bad found footage movies.
Fast forward to 2016 and the disappointing box office for the new Blair Witch movie. Hollywood has been on a reboot kick for several years and most of them have been disappointing. Reboots and sequels to movies have generally come with less risk than starting a new series. It comes with a built-in audience and you don’t have to spend precious screen time fleshing out characters.
The Blair Witch Project story was great in 1999 because it was new and the format was unique. Now, it’s old and tired in a format that has been played out. They were hoping for a resurgence like the Evil Dead remake and it didn’t happen. The reality is that people had been clamoring for a new Evil Dead movie since Army of Darkness. They wanted a new movie, but instead that got a well written and crafted reboot.
No one was asking for a new Blair Witch movie. No one wanted to revisit the forests and the little stick figures…except for American Horror Story Season 6 apparently. The movie fell on deaf ears and despite a low budget can’t create the box office needed for a sequel. I for one am glad.