* ½ out of four
The original Blair Witch Project from 1999 was a major success...but then the backlash came. See, you end up not seeing any witches or demons in this no-budget “found footage” feature which, instead, fed off the audience's fears and imagination. General audiences were expecting to actually see something, especially after all the buzz about the movie. Also, The Blair Witch Project's ingenious and playful ad campaign had some people thinking the movie was a real documentary, then feeling that the movie duped them when they realized it was a work of fiction.
One year later, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It wasn't “found footage” but it was a resounding turd that killed the series...at least until this new sequel decided to beat a dead horse. This third Blair Witch, directed by Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest), returns to the “found footage” gimmick making it a bigger budgeted carbon copy of the original, but without the ingenuity.
It's been 17 years since the events of the first movie, and now, James (James Allen McCune), the grown brother of one of the missing filmmakers decides to visit the haunted woods to find clues as to what happened to his sister, Heather. The friends he brings along appear to be college kids ready to party, but they are equipped with high-tech cameras to record their findings. A couple of goth/hipsters tag along as well, and they provide the film with much unintentional comedy.
The new film offers the same situations as the original – the group gets lost and walk all day only to realize they are going in circles, and they hear creepy noises at night. Now, during the night scenes in the original we hear, in the distance, what sounds like rocks repeatedly being knocked together. It's weird and spooky. In this update, the sounds are ridiculously louder as if the characters are camping out in Britain during The Blitz.
There are also setups that don't have payoffs, like when one character injures her foot. It gets infected, begins to throb in an unnatural manner, and later she pulls something out of her leg (hard to tell what it is since the shot is shaky and out of focus) but that is it. She dies in a completely different manner.
Then we have the goth/hipster guy who disappears into the woods and then shows up increasingly disheveled, eventually looking like he had been trapped in a mine shaft for weeks.
Okay, I'm a fan of the original film and still find it to be effective, but enough is enough.