Seventeen years after its groundbreaking release, The Blair Witch Project finally has a proper sequel. However, Blair Witch is more like a reboot of Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick's found-footage phenomenon than a continuation. The scares are bigger and more stylized, but the plot is largely the same, as Heather's little brother James — now a college film student in his 20s — and his friends (and two local stragglers) venture to the Black Hills looking for anything that might help James find closure. It doesn't take long until they stumble upon the same piles of rocks and dangling stick figures that Heather, Josh, and Michael found back in October 1994. Things only get more bleak from there.
Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett recreate many of the more memorable moments from The Blair Witch Project — Heather's snot-infused confession not included — but at a more accelerated pace. For example, shit starts to hit the fan after James's first night in the Black Hills Forest. From there, the story moves at a dizzying pace as each of the six are picked off by the Blair Witch. Some of these narratives work (you'll never look at those creepy stick ornaments the same way again), and some are completely unoriginal. But those final 20 minutes are truly terrifying — and they dig deeper into the Blair Witch mythology.
All that being said, we obviously have a few questions. (Warning: spoilers lie ahead)
Does all the expensive camera equipment get added to Lisa’s Bursar bill?Lionsgate
There have been a lot of technological advancements in the 17 years since The Blair Witch Project, so it makes perfect sense that Lisa and her motley crew of amateur videographers would come to the Black Hills packing major camera tech. Whereas Heather shot her footage with a hand-held camera, college documentary students in 2016 have many more resources available to them — digital video cameras, mics, SD cards, GoPros, ear-mounted cameras with GPS, a drone with GPS, and smartphones with GPS! That's a lot of cool tech. But now that Lisa and her friends are all dead, who's going to pay for it all? Seeing as I once signed away my first-born child to New York University to use a digital video camera and a tripod for a few hours, I know for a fact that somebody is going to get charged for all of that destroyed camera equipment. Sorry, Lisa's parents — not only is your daughter dead, but she also left you a hefty tab to close.
Did James’s parents know that he was going back to the Black Hills, a.k.a. the same place their daughter went missing and was presumably murdered in 1994?Lionsgate
Because if they didn't, that's kind of fucked up. What did your parents ever do to you, James? Not to mention, you were only four when your sister Heather disappeared. How much do you really love someone at four years old? Just a thought.
How does time work in the Black Hills Forest?Lionsgate
Time manipulation has been a major topic of discussion among Blair Witch enthusiasts since the film's release in 1999. Heather, Josh, and Mike spend the majority of the film wandering in circles, unable to find the road. The reigning theory is that the Black Hills Forest is lost in time: When you enter the forest, all notion of time, past or present, ceases to exist. That would explain why they couldn't find their car, why the search parties — whose time in the woods overlapped with the crew's — never found them, and why their footage was found buried under the foundation of a house that had been around since at least the 1940s.
Blair Witch expands on this mythology. At one point in the film, locals Lane and Talia say they've been wandering around the woods for five days — but only a few hours had passed for James and Lisa. At another point, a haggard-looking Lane approaches Lisa as though it's been years since he last saw her. And perhaps the biggest testament to the time manipulation theory is the reveal that the footage Lane and Talia found in the woods — the footage that galvanized James to search for his sister — was the same footage Lisa shot while running from the Blair Witch in Rustin Parr's house.
TL;DR — The Black Hills Forest effectively creates a time loop that connects past and present events.
Were those stick figures always voodoo dolls?Lionsgate
In The Blair Witch Project, the stick figures appear littered around the campground as an omen. It's the first significant red flag for the filmmakers: Turn back now. However, in Blair Witch, we discover the meaning behind them. When Talia realizes her hair has been taken and used to tie the sticks together, she starts to panic. Out of frustration, Ashley snatches the figure and snaps in half — unknowingly snapping Talia in half too. One second Talia's standing, and the next she's down on the ground, twisted and mangled. Yep, those tree ornaments are voodoo dolls.
If James supposedly watched his sister’s found footage, then why didn’t he realize what was happening as it was happening to him and his friends?Lionsgate
Oh, James. You poor, simple bae. James SAYS he's watched his sister's footage countless times looking for clues that would allow him to piece together her disappearance. He SAYS that he's put in the time and the research — and that he has reason to believe that she's alive. And yet, he calmly proceeds to repeat all her mistakes. HE EVEN RUNS INTO THE HOUSE AFTER HIS FRIENDS HAD BEEN PICKED OFF ONE BY ONE. He knew that house was bad news, but he ran in there anyway. SMH.
What the hell was crawling inside of Ashley’s foot?Lionsgate
It looked like a snake or an alien parasite, but I was honestly too freaked out to give it a proper look. Either way, it was gross.
Speaking of Ashley, why did she climb that tree?Lionsgate
That drone sequence was one of the most suspenseful moments in the entire film. Was it predictable? Yes. I knew Ashley was going to meet her demise the minute she decided to climb up a damn tree to set that stupid drone free, but that didn't stop me from holding my breath and flinching every time she stupidly reached toward the drone's propellers. (Aside: I loved Ashley because I felt like that would be me in a camping situation. I'd step on that rock! I'd continue to trip and fall all over the forest! And I'd 100 percent be whiny and generally O-V-E-R it the entire time.)
Is the Blair Witch also supposed to be the zombie monster from [•REC]?Lionsgate
Blair Witch takes a risk in unveiling its namesake in the final act — a narrative decision that may not work for everyone, especially Blair Witch purists who believe that less is more. Believe me: She's definitely a sight you can't un-see.