Logo for the Blair Witch on DStv

James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Valorie Curry

In horror movie Blair Witch, a young man and his friends venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mystery surrounding his missing sister. Many believe her disappearance 17 years earlier is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when two locals act as guides through the dark and winding woods. As the night wears on, a visit from a menacing presence soon makes them realise that the legend is all too real - and more sinister than they could have ever imagined.

 

Horror movie sequels need to build on the original’s reputation, but following a global hit like The Blair Witch Project was a tall order. To be fair, this film is the third in the series, but technically the second, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, is a film within a film and therefore not a true sequel.

The Blair Witch is a legendary being from Burkittsville, Maryland. Several mysterious events over the course of centuries became blamed on an exiled woman named Elly Kedward, who was said to have practiced witchcraft and banished from Blair in 1785 after several local children accused her of performing witchcraft. She was presumed dead from exposure. She was hanged on a tree, with stones tied to each of her limbs, stretching her body. The next year, all her accusers and half the town's children vanished without a trace. Fearing a curse, the townspeople immediately fled Blair, vowing never to utter the name ‘Elly Kedward’ again. Sam Adams’ book told of the trial of Elly Kedward, her execution and supposed rebirth, as well as the curse on the entire town. It contained the first recorded use of the term ‘Blair Witch’. The Blair Witch is described by one woman as being covered in black fur which is concealed beneath a wool shawl, and by another account, having long spindly limbs.

In 2014, James Donahue finds a video on YouTube containing an image of a woman he believes to be his sister Heather, who disappeared 10 years previously while investigating the legend of the Blair Witch. Believing Heather is still alive, James heads into the woods with friends Peter Jones, Ashley Bennett, and film student Lisa Arlington, who wants to film James' search as a documentary. Locals Talia and Lane, who found and uploaded the video, join them. Predictable, but nonetheless terrifying events unfold, which see the group plunged into a terrifying scenario where they’re seemingly hunted by an entity they believe to be the Blair Witch itself.

Prior to the film's premiere at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, the fact that that the film was a Blair Witch sequel remained a closely guarded secret, with the film shot under the title The Woods to prevent backlash at news of a reboot. The theatre used for the first screening was even filled with fake posters, which were changed once the screening was over. 

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