On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 3, 2017


Full disclosure: I've never seen The Blair Witch Project. I haven't seen its rushed sequel, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, either though I hear that's not a bad thing. Being the oldest of my siblings only meant the rules were enforced hardest on me and despite being a solid twelve years-old when the original film debuted in the summer of 1999 I wasn't allowed to see it. What it became within the landscape of pop culture is now unavoidable as it more or less spurned the idea of what became a genre all its own. When The Blair Witch Project premiered over fifteen years ago though, there was no such thing as "found footage" movies and so it was an experience moviegoers had never had before (or so I'm told). It wasn't a gimmick as much as Paranormal Activity would relay itself to be a decade later, but rather that original Blair Witch carried itself with the air of a documentary-something authentic that audiences shouldn't necessarily be seeing. The fact I'd never seen the original dawned on me more heavily when it was announced at Comic-Con this past summer that the new film from director Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest) previously titled The Woods was actually a third entry in the long-stagnant Blair Witch franchise. Given the aforementioned effect it had on pop culture and that the film itself had become more a reference point than a talking point for the actual content it provided I wondered if it would be better to finally see what all the fuss was about or simply go in cold; hoping for an experience that might capture the same feeling of terror the original conjured up in so many. Of course, given the circumstances that latter hope could never actually be realized considering the ways cinema has transformed in the last seventeen years. It seems that with the Blair Witch films time is simply not on my side. Too young for the original and too seasoned to now be deceived by the found footage-style of filmmaking it's as if I was destined to never realize the full potential of this series. I can acknowledge that and it is discouraging I can never view the original the way the filmmakers intended, but on its own terms the new Blair Witch does nothing new for the genre of "scary movies" and that would be true even if it wasn't based on a seventeen year old original idea. This film could have come out today with no previous films in its canon with no variance of opinion in that Blair Witch is a middle of the road horror flick with some nice ideas and even a couple of genuinely frightening moments that don't parlay into enough of a sucker punch to send us running from the theater. Video review here. Full review here. D+

Denial starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, and Timothy Spall follows acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt who battled for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sued her for libel. As crazy as that story sounds Denial, directed by Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard), is based on real life events and based on a book written by Lipstadt. I missed the film when it played for barely a week or so in my area, but have a review copy of the blu-ray that I look forward to taking a look at it this week.

I didn't and have no intention of seeing Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life as it received terrible reviews and as I sat through all three of the Wimpy Kid films I think I've filled my quota as far as adolescent dramedies go.

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