Underrated Sequel To Horror Classic Film Deserves A Second Chance, Stream Without Netflix

By Robert Scucci | Published

I’m of two minds when it comes to 2016’s Blair Witch. On one hand, it’s an effective found footage horror film that faithfully embodies the spirit of its groundbreaking predecessor that changed the horror genre forever upon its 1999 release. On the other hand, it’s hard to call this direct sequel anything more than a carbon copy of the original film but with new characters and updated technology.

Familiar Quest For Answers

Blair Witch picks up nearly 20 years after the original film, when James Donahue (James Allen McCune) finds a video on YouTube suggesting that his sister, Heather, is still alive somewhere in the Black Hills Forest.

If you’re familiar with original The Blair Witch Project, you know that Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams (all playing themselves in the original film) were presumed dead upon the film’s conclusion. But given how big the forest is, James has reason to believe that search parties were simply looking in the wrong place for his missing sister.

New Faces, Old Haunts

Following a similar format to The Blair Witch Project, James ventures out to Burkitsville Maryland with his friend Peter (Brandon Scott), Peter’s girlfriend, Ashley (Corbin Reid), and his film-student friend, Lisa (Callie Hernandez). The group of friends meet up with Talia (Valorie Curry) and Lane (Wes Robinson), the two locals who uploaded the footage to YouTube.

Talia and Lane offer to show Peter and his group where they found the mysterious footage, but only if they can come along and be a part of the documentary, which Lisa wants to name “The Absence of Closure.” From this point forward, Blair Witch takes a dark yet familiar turn.

Though James and his friends have technology on their side in the form of wearable cameras, two-way radios, and a drone with a camera to be used for aerial shots, the Black Hills Forest clearly has some sort of power over their equipment, which leads them to get lost in the middle of the woods like Heather, Joshua, and Michael so many years before.

Familiar Tropes, Fresh Frights

I think fans of the original film will probably start to check out when Blair Witch approaches its second and third acts because it’s not really offering anything new. As expected, there’s lots of shaky camera work, screaming, and suspicion among the group because either an unknown entity is terrorizing them, or Talia and Lane are messing with them.

But as formulaic as this sequel may be, it has a surprising amount of effective jump-scares and unexplainable occurrences that work in this context.

The Legacy of Rustin Parr

The scenes involving Rustin Parr’s house, where Heather was last seen in The Blair Witch Project, are truly unsettling because you never know what you’re going to see around each corner.

The fact that some of the footage from the original film was spliced into these scenes hints that some sort of supernatural element is at play, or, at the very least, reminds you that something terrible is about to happen because the house is clearly the final stop that somebody will arrive at during such a trip through the haunted woods.

Lore And Impact

Blair Witch, as a direct sequel, is effective because it lets a whole new generation of kids know about the film that started it all. It taps into the lore that the first film established, and expands on it to show just exactly how much of an effect Heather’s mysterious disappearance has on her little brother so many years later.

I’ll admit that I want to take some points off because The Blair Witch Project was marketed as something that actually happened, and Blair Witch clearly has a cast where the actor and character names are not the same, unlike the original film which had unknown actors portraying fictionalized versions of themselves.

Embracing Evolution


But still, I can’t really fault Blair Witch for updating its predecessor’s premise, even if I had to suspend a healthy amount of disbelief to immerse myself in its storytelling.

If you skipped over this sequel like I did, you might want to check it out because it’s a well-done addition to the found footage genre that you may have written off as a cash-grab. Personally, I think it deserves a second chance. You can stream Blair Witch on Tubi as of this writing.