“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff”
Doctor Who: Blink Episode 2007!
I never would have thought after seeing the long awaited sequel/reboot/remake of The Blair Witch Project that I would be starting this feature with a quote from the good man who rides the Tardis through time and space. But that is exactly how I felt once the credits rolled at the finale in what is being said, will be the very last time we visit the woods of Burkittsville.
If you have not seen Blair Witch yet, then this HCF Feature will contain spoilers, so please stop reading now:
You have been warned:
While Star Wars fans are waiting for Rouge One and Comic Book devotees have had their fixes with the likes of Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, being a huge horror fanatic, ever since The Woods was revealed to be the long awaited Blair Witch sequel, this was my horror event of the year.
I am one of the biggest fans of the original and way back in 1999 I left the cinema with a huge smile on my face and a knowing that I had just seen something really special. Many dismiss it, newcomers laugh at the lack of Paranormal Activity, but for me, I got it! The media hype, the use of the Internet to make people believe it was all real (a first back then), The Blair Witch Project may have its critics, but it was also a film that launched the Found Footage genre. It wasn’t the first to use it, the likes of The Last Broadcast and Cannibal Holocaust were released before the trip to the woods, but like Halloween, which wasn’t the first slasher but was the most influential, many have and still are, copying the blueprint of what Blair offered and for that, it should never be dismissed as poorly as some make it to believe.
This is not a review of Blair Witch as my fellow critic David S, covered the HCF Review right here: https://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2016/09/blair-witch-2016/, so this feature is mostly to do with the events that happened once the 2016 film started and believe me, so much went on, that the entire mythology of what was started in 1999, exploded into possible new paths that had me sometimes in shock and in awe.
Before I set off with my outlandish thoughts, lets go back to the original case of Heather, Josh and Mike. Now every horror fan knows the story. Three campers go deep into the woods to look for the supposed to be “Blair Witch” and never return! When their film footage is found, what was on it, confused many Law enforcement’s looking into the case.
I am talking about that house, Rustin Parr’s house in fact. Many die hard Blair Witch fans will tell you something that many people who have seen the original failed to realise, that the house no longer existed in those woods. As told in the Sci-Fi documentary, Curse Of The Blair Witch, the house was burnt down in the 1940’s, after the atrocities of Parr’s actions, so when we saw Mike and Heather scared out of their wits, running through the dark corridors, bloody children fingerprints all over the walls, where exactly were they?
Its a theory that as confused so much debate over the years between fans, for myself even when on a now defunct movie forum, I spent hours arguing the case to fellow fans who thought I was taking a simple Ghost story and trying to turn it into something else. The fact is, the 2016 version not only expands the theory of many, but also ramps it up further and offers even more evidence that what we actually watching is not a simply horror, but a Science Fiction one of that!
The Time Travel notion of Blair Witch as been around for years, so I am not going to put my claim to fame on this. I like many others, have argued the case but at least now this new film gives us some reasons to back up our logic:
The opening five minutes actually sets it all up for debate as we witness Jamie and Lisa watch a tape found in the woods, that apparently shows Jamie’s long lost sister Heather, the main reason why these new campers venture into the woods and onto the same path.
Many may have missed it at the time, but the actual tape they are watching is not of Heather and is of Lisa herself, making that fatal trip around the house. In a spooky and somewhat eerie situation, they are unaware that they are actually seeing their own demise. Now this as not been confirmed by the writers, but more importantly its not been denied, but if you actually watch the opening five minutes again and at the climax, you actually see the same scenes play out, which opens up the whole time travel logic.
Make more mistake, like his sister before him, James and Lisa are in a house that is no longer there and they have been sent a tape of events from the future! Who sent it? Now I can’t answer the last question, it will no doubt cause much debate for years between avid fans, but what I can offer up is how the house is there and its either the gang have stepped back into the 40’s as the woods is somewhat trapped in a ghostly time warp, or somewhere in the centre of the forest is an alternative dimension. The latter makes more sense. Its why Heather and Co walked for days and always end up in the same place and likewise the new crew in 2016.
Time travel/alternative dimension’s, whatever it is, there is something majorly going wrong with time. This logic is actually applied in the much criticised Book Of Shadows sequel when we see the place the original tapes were found, (in Rustin Parr’s house of ruins) only for later on a tree to appear right bang in the middle of it, which even in the most silliest of horror sequels a character comments “How is this tree here?, did they build a house around this tree?”.
Even the scene of the alarm going off at 7am but its still night time, is clear Time manipulation, which not only confuses the characters but also those of us watching.
Another strong case is now of the character Lane who is pivotal to the evidence. First of all he disappears and when he shows up he claims he as been gone for 5 days and not a few hours like the others believe and then at the climax when Lisa bumps into him in the house, Lane as aged dramatically and even says “that she looks just like how he last saw her”. How long as time passed for him then? Months? Years?……..
Remember the film CUBE, where the rooms changed non stop to confuse the those trying to survive. Well imagine Burkittsville woods as one giant CUBE and that every path changes constantly (hence the loud noises doing the night as trees creak by being moved) so no one who enters can ever leave.
One of the folklore’s of the Blair Witch is the fact Elly Kedward was known for talking to the trees who listened to her every whim and while its still unclear if she is the Witch herself, could she be another entity who is making the trees move on their own and actually be the tree/stick figure we glimpse in the film. The added new backstory of her suggests that she became the deathly image in afterlife of how she was brutally killed by the townsfolk.
Such deep material for two films that are supposed to be just found-footage horror!
In a twisted but marvelous bit of creative genius, the finale also sets up the possibility that James and Lisa are actually in the house the same time as Heather and Mike. James actually claims he can see is sister, so why not? With all this time jumps and loops, why can’t James be seeing Heather even though we can’t and even in a some twisted sense of fate, couldn’t Lane have been the one who killed the original crew. Like I said, how long was he in that house for? Like Rustin Parr before him, he actually says “You got to do what she tells you?”, so what as he been doing? Parr killed children under the orders of the woman who lives in the woods, so why is it so hard to believe that Lane as been killing people and with only the original crew known for being missing over recent years, it makes sense that he was the one doing it!
Of course all of this could be just ramblings of a mad man. But the most popular one between fans who have seen this new film, is in fact its not a witch but Aliens doing the deeds! That unexplained white light, filtering through the cracks of the house did resemble a sort of UFO, tied in with that appearance of this twig figure running around. If this footage was sent to the FBI and Fox Mulder watched them, what with the missing time, strange noises and lights, then no doubt he be grabbing Scully and claiming that this is Alien Abduction, but for me, that light could mean anything.
My idea is that its time passing back and fore quickly and the light is the daylight hours. Surreal? I know! But I simply do not believe that after all these years, an Alien is to blame for what is happening in those woods.
Either way, while the film may have flopped at the box-office (even though its made its money back), rumours are that after three films, this is the last time we ever get to visit this tale again. Which is a huge shame, but a welcome one in my eyes. The Blair Witch Project was a simple ghost story that had a finale that stroked many welcome debates over the years. The power of the original was the fact it left the viewer with their own imagination. Keeping it simple was its most powerful tool.
Blair Witch 2016 is the film that took the mythology and turned the dial right up. Like the sign of the times, its a more violent, full of aggression offspring that gives the viewers more to see, but by doing that it loses sight of what it once was. For a sequel, it was much better than any fan could expect and it offered us even more debates to go through, but anymore tales after this will diminish the power of the witch even further.
The great now departed Gene Wilder once sung a song called “Pure Imagination” and we have two horror films in a franchise that does offer its viewer a chance to think and expand at what they are seeing, but after rocking the horror world in 1999 and surprising it again with a sequel that has no right to be as good as it is…..its time to say goodbye to Burkittsville and leave whatever is in those woods alone.