The Blair Witch Project (1999) was an easy movie to dislike. A nauseating mess of shaky cam and screaming, it was also hugely influential on a whole generation of movies that helped make "found footage" the derogatory term it is today. But it stuck with me. For all its flaws, The Blair Witch Project is a movie with some genuinely unsettling visual moments. Images that were original then, and which are iconic now. The girl talking in barely more than a whisper, face lit by flashlight, snot and tears dripping. Fingers wrapped up in rags. Or the guy standing, face first in the corner of a basement room in that inexplicable final shot.
I love that final shot. It still gives me the creeps, thinking about it. Not understanding what it meant. There's something scary about not understanding. That final shot left you with no answers, but it also left you feeling certain that there WERE answers and that those answers were probably SUPER FUCKED.
Blair Witch (2016) is a good faith attempt to make a new Blair Witch Project. And in a lot of ways, it does exactly that. There are jump scares. Lots of shaky cam. People screaming at one another while they run through the darkness. At times it is too faithful maybe, recreating those iconic and unsettling images from the first movie with these new characters rather than doing anything new. But at its best it is a nice homage, even if it does just remind me how much more I liked the original.
At its worst, though, the movie brings those iconic images back and tries to provide explanations which cheapen them with fairtytale nonsense and bad horror cliches.
You don't need any explanation at all. You certainly don't need a character to come on and literally say, "Remember that shot of the guy standing in the corner. We figured out why he was doing that!" And then you can't come up with a better answer than "because if you can't see it, it can't see you?"
Also, sure, let's have the witch be another Mama [Rec] Conjuring 2 slenderman thing. Sometimes I wish even MORE movies had this exact same monster. Think how scary that would be.