A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Blair Witch is the third movie in the successful Blair Witch horror series, following the original, groundbreaking The Blair Witch Project and the rushed, badly made sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Expect some intensely scary scenes that focus mainly on sounds and unseen/barely seen images, as well as a generally spooky atmosphere. There's also some blood and gore, like when a character removes a gross foreign object from a leg wound and when another character is snapped in half. In another scene, a man attacks a woman and drags her body into a pit. Language includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. There's a brief, joking reference to oral sex. Although the movie is far from perfect, with shallow characters and a laughable set-up, as the finale approaches, it's genuinely chilling, and teen horror hounds will likely be eager to see it.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
BLAIR WITCH takes place many years after the original The Blair Witch Project (1999), in which three film students -- including a young woman named Heather -- disappeared while making a movie in a spooky woods. Now Heather's younger brother, James (James Allen McCune), receives a clue: a video found in the woods containing his sister's image. James' childhood friend, Peter (Brandon Scott), agrees to go to the woods with him to find out more, and Peter's girlfriend, Ashley (Corbin Reid), comes along, too. Lisa (Callie Hernandez), a friend working on a documentary project, rigs everyone with cameras. The group meets locals Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry), and they all head into the woods. At first, strange happenings appear to be nothing to worry about, but before long, the terror escalates until nothing seems real.
Is it any good?
As it grows more unreal, this "threequel" to the original Blair Witch Project becomes intensely scary, but it's undone by a weak set-up and irritatingly dumb, shallow characters. Blair Witch has more in common with the rushed, boneheaded Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) than it does with the crafty, groundbreaking original. The characters' reason for going into the woods is ridiculous, and the friends are selfish and treat each other callously.
Ideas like a flying drone camera and the two locals initially faking some scares are dropped or never explored; they seem more like desperate filler than actual content. The shaky-cam footage can get tiresome, but the film's stark lighting, spooky woods, and even spookier cabin at the climax are actually, genuinely hair-raising, relying more on goosebumps than on jump-scares. It makes you wonder why, if director Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest) had enough skill to generate chills, he couldn't have made a smart, emotionally engaging movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Blair Witch's violence. How much is actually shown, and how much is left to the imagination? Which is scarier, and why? How much does the movie's sound contribute? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Is the movie scary? What makes it scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
How does this movie compare to the original Blair Witch Project? What was unique about that film? Does this one have the same qualities?
The movie's point of view is constantly switching among the four characters who are wearing cameras. Is it interesting, confusing, or both to almost literally see through their eyes? How does the shifting POV affect how you interpret what you're seeing on screen?
How does the "found footage" idea work in this movie? What did you like -- or not like -- about it?
- In theaters: September 16, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: January 3, 2017
- Cast: Valorie Curry, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott
- Director: Adam Wingard
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, terror and some disturbing images
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