Blair Witch review: And the prize for Most Pointless Remake of 2016 goes to...

Adam Wingard's remake of the 1998 found-footage classic is entirely pointless

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Director: Adam Wingard
Cert: 16
Genre: Horror
Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Valorie Curry, Brandon Scott, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson
Running Time: 1 hr 29 mins

Adam Wingard (and his regular writer, Simon Barrett), those clever fellows behind mumblecore slasher hit You’re Next and 80s-tastic instant cult classic, The Guest, do that clever Cloverfield thing of remaking The Blair Witch Project under cover of darkness. What could possibly go wrong?

So why does this Blair Witch reboot feel like Wingard and Barrett were remaking Book of Secrets: Blair Witch 2 – that notorious franchise killing sequel - rather than the 1998 found footage classic?

Just as that unholy 1999 offering was blighted by the classic symptoms of sequelitis: bigger budget, larger cast, swollen mythology, so alas, is Wingard’s reboot. We start off in facsimile mode: four potential victims – including film student Lisa (Hernandez), paramedic James (McCune), his best pal Peter (Scott), Peter’s girlfriend Ashley (Reid) – go down to woods in search of James’ sister Heather, who disappeared during the ground-breaking 1998 film.

They’re joined by local tinfoil hat-wearers Lane (Robinson) and Talia (Curry), who provide readymade fissures in the group dynamic and fireside embellishments on the original legend, clumsily prefaced by: “I read on the internet that…”


The gang are armed with cameras, GPS, walkie-talkies and a drone. It’s enough equipment to launch a mission to Mars, but in practise it means that we’re watching an extended version of that tired contemporary horror movie trope wherein the nubile teens realise they have no cell phone reception.

Worse still, the multiple camera angles ensure that just as dread surges – the waiting was always the hardest part in The Blair Witch Project (1998) – we cut away to something less nerve-wrecking.

Doubling the number of kids who venture into the Black Hills only ensures that we don’t decipher or bond with any of them.

To be fair, Blair Witch was never going to generate the buzz and blindsiding of its predecessor but it can’t even manage to excite when it is tracing its footsteps. The denouement takes 20 minutes to do what the original did in three.

A third or fourth viewing of Don’t Breath will yield more surprises and scares. That was quick: time for Ben Hur to surrender its Most Pointless Remake of 2016 crown.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic