Adam Wingard, the talented horror filmmaker who gave us the brilliantly subversive You’re Next, revealed at San Diego Comin-Con 2016 that his latest film The Woods is actually an official sequel to found footage masterpiece The Blair Witch Project.
It was with excitement and shock that we learned You’re Next director Adam Wingard’s new film The Woods was actually a secret official sequel to 1999 found footage masterpiece The Blair Witch Project. In a classic movie twist, Wingard wowed audiences at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 with a screening of the full film and first public release of its new trailer.
For those not there, observant fans watching the trailer online began putting two and two together. The Woods eventually showed its true colours. The title – simply Blair Witch – displayed at the end of the trailer confirmed suspicions.
While the trailer itself offers nothing beyond the rudimentary – a typical sequel set-up tied into the original, nods to its predecessor in setting and structure, its pace gathering speed as things appear to get horrifically out of control – early word from those privileged enough to see it points to Wingard’s film, like You’re Next, being something rather special.
Bloody-disgusting.com has seen Blair Witch and lavished it with praise. Indeed, it called it a “game-changer”. In its review it said audiences don’t need to be familiar with the original film in order to get up to speed with what’s going on. Its predecessor saw documentary filmmakers set off into the Burkittsville woods in Maryland in search of the mythical eponymous witch.
What begins as an enthusiastic passion project documenting local history and folklore’s place within it, ends with a fight for survival as the witch’s presence appears all too real. Wingard’s sequel sees the brother of one of the missing filmmakers discover a new tape that suggests his sibling is still alive. Following in his sister’s footsteps, he assembles a crew and sets off to document his search for her.
Like You’re Next, Blair Witch appears to be a film willing to subvert expectation. Wingard is a filmmaker who understands genre convention and the audience’s expectation due to the tropes they recognise. By presenting them before subverting expectation we are witness to the deconstruction of genre into something new. Whether Blair Witch will manage to scale the heights of You’re Next remains to be seen but Bloody Disgusting had nothing but praise for it.
“Some will laud it, others will loathe it, but make no mistake: Blair Witch is that game-changer horror fans desperately have been waiting for. It will usher in a new breed of genre films that are targeted at creating an emotional experience above all else. “Scary” is probably an understatement as this may just be the first film since The Exorcist that will leave younger audiences scarred for life.”
Of course fans of the original may get more out of this retooled sequel. Says film critic Steve Barton of Dread Central: “Wingard and Barrett definitely bring their own flavour to the world created by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, expanding upon the mythos and everything we thought that we knew while planting a veritable treasure trove of easter eggs within the film for the fans to discover.” Barton, like fellow critics, lauded the last act, calling it “undeniably intense”.
The Exorcist comparisons are surely a bit much. Indeed, Blair Witch must first try to be as good as the 1999 film it follows. But with the talent involved and the early word of mouth, there’s every chance it will deliver on its promise.
Blair Witch arrives in UK cinemas September 16