Blair Witch: Fear The Found Footage

Visionary director Adam Wingard unleashed one of the cinematic surprises of 2016 when his next opus, The Woods turned out to be an utterly terrifying return to the world of the BLAIR WITCH, available now on Blu-ray, DVD, alongside a double pack with The Blair Witch Project, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film follows a group of college students who venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of James’ sister, which many people believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when a young local couple offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods. However, as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence. Slowly, they begin to realize the legend of the Blair Witch is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.

Expanding on the mythology created in the iconic The Blair Witch Project, BLAIR WITCH is at once an exercise in slow-burning tension and a heart-pounding study in terror that further proves Wingard, responsible for the near-perfect slasher pic You’re Next and the joyous tribute to John Carpenter that was The Guest, really is modern horror cinema’s saviour.

Fear The Found Footage

Released back in 1999, the original The Blair Witch Project offered audiences a new way of experiencing terror from the point of view of those being subjected to it, and they lapped it up.

With Blair Witch arriving on Blu-ray and DVD from January 23rd, what better opportunity to look at some of the most noteworthy found footage horrors to date.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) 

Okay, I know we just said The Blair Witch Project created the genre, but only in as much as Halloween created the stalk’n’slash (when actually, Black Christmas pipped it to the post but didn’t take off in quite the same way), but Cannibal Holocaust pre-dates the woods in Burkittsville by nearly 20 years.

The tale of an attempt to recover reels of film from shot by a documentary crew is replete with nastiness – so much so that the director was briefly charged with murder – so it’s pleasing to see the genre took a more acceptable turn as years went by.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) 

The granddaddy of them all, Edward Sanchez and Daniel Myrick’s instant classic follows three filmmaking students (all loosely playing themselves) who venture into woodland in search of the legendary Blair Witch.

The footage – supposedly found weeks later – shows that as they become hopelessly lost and seemingly tormented by an unseen force, things begin to unravel in fairly spectacular fashion (who can forget snot-cam?).

The final ten minutes of the film remain truly, truly terrifying, with the film being an exercise in ‘less is more’ as much as it is a pioneer for a new genre.

Paranormal Activity (2007) 

As Hollywood was peddling Scream rip-offs around the time Blair Witch came out, it was a surprising amount of time before another found footage saga hit the big time.

Paranormal Activity, though, didn’t so much replicate the beats of its influencer as create a behemoth all of its own.

Charting the story of a couple tormented by a malevolent poltergeist, the film also starred unknowns but mixed the creeping terror of Blair Witch with some seriously effective jump scares and cleverly un-showy special effects, launching a franchise of its own (of admittedly variable quality).

Cloverfield (2008) 

You can trust, it seems, JJ Abrams to up the stakes whenever he’s given the opportunity to, with no better example than Cloverfield, which tore up the found footage rule book and created a sci-fi

monster epic shot entirely at ground level. Told from the point of view of guests at a farewell party, Cloverfield starts softly before it becomes blindingly apparent that a monster the size of a skyscraper is wreaking havoc in New York City.

Troll Hunter (2010) 

A distant cousin of Cloverfield, Troll Hunter is another found footage monster epic, although this time the fantasy elements are ramped up in the snowy wilds of Scandinavia and an entire mythology is wrapped up in the found footage shocks (and laughs).

So far so familiar as a bunch of students arrive to learn more about a legendary Norwegian bear hunter, but cue hilarity and terror in equal measure as it becomes apparent this hunter doesn’t hunt bears, but storey-high trolls who aren’t pleased about it at all.

Blair Witch (2016) 

A direct sequel to the original film (and circumnavigating the ill-received Blair Witch 2: Book Of Shadows), Blair Witch comes from the mind of acclaimed horror filmmaker Adam Wingard, flying high after hits such as You’re Next and The Guest.

The brother of Heather from the original film finds himself drawn to the same woodland she disappeared in but in the 20 years since that time the good old Blair Witch has got even more dangerous and the terror witnessed first time round is ramped up to eleven.

The film also serves as a sobering lesson to those who through drone cams were a good idea. An instant classic.

Blair Witch is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, alongside a box set with the original Blair Witch Project.

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