One of horror cinema’s spookiest makes a return to theaters on September 16. The Lionsgate film previously marketed as The Woods is actually a sequel to the shaky-cam classic The Blair Witch Project. The new movie, titled Blair Witch, stars James Allen McCune as the brother of Heather Donahue’s character from the 1999 film. He sets out to investigate what happened to his missing sister in those deep, dark Maryland woods. New-gen horror-meisters Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett of You’re Next and The Guest fame directed and wrote Blair Witch, respectively.
The new film was a secret until a big reveal at Comic-Con. “The Woods was our working title,” Wingard told Entertainment Weekly. “When we signed on to it, we knew that [the name] was eventually going to be changed. To us, it wasn’t even going to be part of the marketing. But I think Lionsgate made a really smart decision, using that.” The marketing maneuver mirrors the original movie’s. More on that from our list of essential horror films:
Before Paranormal Activity became a popular found footage franchise, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s shaky-cam classic was terrifying unsuspecting audiences in 1999 with a convincing viral marketing campaign and a dark mythology tied to the occult and urban legends. The familiarity of Blair Witch’s storyline drew people in, and its presentation felt utterly real. People believed that three filmmaking students had actually disappeared in the Maryland woods. Audiences were convinced they were watching the recovered footage from cameras left behind. Even those that didn’t buy the marketing scheme had a nagging sensation in the back of their minds. The question was always there. The movie was able to stand on its own, apart from the phony websites and trick advertising, presenting some genuinely frightening moments and an effortless simplicity. The impact was similar to The Exorcist 26 years earlier — uniting audiences far and wide as it effectively tapped into our collective consciousness and deep-seated fears.
Watch the trailer for Blair Witch, below.