[31 Days or Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 15 – Seventh Moon (2008)

Director: Eduardo Sánchez

Cast: Amy Smart, Tim Chiou, Dennis Chan

Screenplay: Eduardo Sánchez

87 mins. Rated R for language and violence/horror.

 

Is Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project, Exists) capable of doing something that isn’t found-footage? Until today, I’d only seen his found-footage films, and they were hit-and-miss for me, so I was interested in seeing what else this director had to give.

Melissa (Amy Smart, Just Friends, Avengers of Justice: Farce Wars) and her Chinese American husband Yul (Tim Chiou, Fat Camp, TV’s Living with Models) are celebrating their honeymoon in China, and everything seems to be going very well, but one night, as they are taking the car back from a festival they were attending, they become stranded in a village that they do not know…and they are being followed by something not human.

Wow, what a terrible film. What an absolutely terrible film. There’s not a single element of this film that works. First of all, let’s settle the big problem here. This movie isn’t a found-footage film, but it is shot with a shaky cam that’s so noticeably bad and confusing (dare I say headache-inducing) that it’s incomprehensible to even know what’s happening most of the time. The cam is shakier than it is in most found-footage films. I have no idea what happens in this movie after the first ten minutes because the camera can’t focus on a single element onscreen.

Amy Smart and Tim Chiou are probably trying their best, but the screenplay is pretty close to just screaming and yelling, not too far off from The Blair Witch Project. I don’t know enough about either of them to really care that anything bad is happening (I also wouldn’t have a clue what was happening anyway).

This film was an absolute waste of time. There’s nothing good about Seventh Moon except perhaps the kernel of an idea that this legend is real. I think you can make a good film with this central idea. Eduardo Sánchez just didn’t make a good movie. That’s it. Nothing more to say on the subject.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Eduardo Sánchez’s The Blair Witch Project, click here.

For my review of Eduardo Sánchez’s Exists, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 13 – Exists (2014)

Director: Eduardo Sanchez

Cast: Dora Madison Burge, Samuel Davis Roger Edwards, Chris Osborn, Brian Steele, Denise Williamson

Screenplay: Jamie Nash

81 mins. Rated R for language throughout, some violence, sexual content and drug use.

 

Found footage will never really go away; there will just be good ones that surface in the pile of trash. Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Lovely Molly) is quite well known for really creating the found-footage subgenre, or accidentally stumbling across it. He and Daniel Myrick proved that the concept can work, and then he tried some other stuff, and then went back for his next project: Exists. Sadly, this one didn’t stumble into greatness. It merely stumbled.

Five friends have set out on an outdoor adventure in east Texas. Brian (Chris Osborn, #REALITYHIGH, A Close Divide) and Matt (Samuel Davis, Last Flag Flying, Cabin Fever) have an uncle Bob with a cabin that they can stay at. When they hit something with the car, only to find nothing outside, the group ventures by foot to the cabin. The group enjoys their time at the cabin for the entire next day before finding themselves hunted by something. Something big. Something angry. Something out for revenge.

For a film that never hides the fact that it’s a movie about Bigfoot (Brian Steele, Terminator: Salvation, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), this film sure likes to keep Bigfoot at bay and hidden for most of the film. I mean, I get it, you are trying to do the Jaws thing and keep the monster hidden. So then why have it on the poster? Why get a terrific company like WETA to do your creature effects? Why do this and then deliberately obscure the creature. When filmmakers take use of shaky-cam, the creature comes off looking like a hairy dude in a suit. It only looked good when we finally see it on film.

I found many of the characters in the film to be poorly written with no character development whatsoever. I didn’t know these characters. I wasn’t invested in them. I didn’t care if they lived or died.

Now I definitely got more engaged in the film when the first half was done so that I could actually get to the meat of the story. The second half of Exists is still better than most of The Blair Witch Project. It just still isn’t very engaging.

I just didn’t love Exists. To me, Sanchez just falls back on making the same movie here that he made before. And that first film wasn’t that good, and this isn’t good. Nothing is good about this. The creature design is amazing, and the film someone finds its footing far too late into its run time, but it just doesn’t have the chops to climb out of obscurity.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick’s The Blair Witch Project, click here.

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 23 – The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Director: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

Cast: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard

Screenplay: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

81 mins. Rated R for language.

 

The Blair Witch Project cast quite the shadow upon release. I remember being much younger and everyone asking me, “Have you seen it yet?” Of course I hadn’t, but everyone else had. Even my brother, who never went to movies, saw The Blair Witch Project. The guy in front of him got sick, then asked a theater attendant for a mop to clean it up. It was pandemonium. I saw it after the hype and hated it. This wasn’t the greatest piece of horror cinema of all time like I’d heard. Naturally, I avoided the film for the next 17 years until the sequel Blair Witch arrived. This year, I thought I’d revisit The Blair Witch Project to see if my reaction has changed.

The Blair Witch Project projects itself as found-footage (one of the first films ever to fully sell itself as such) of three people: Heather (Heather Donahue, Boys and Girls, The Morgue), Mike (Michael C. Williams, Altered, Four Corners of Fear), and Josh (Joshua Leonard, If I Stay, Teenage Cocktail). Heather is a filmmaker chronicling the legend of the Blair Witch, a legend that exists in parts of Maryland. They vanished, leaving only this footage behind.

So, I didn’t hate The Blair Witch Project on this second go-around, but I still don’t think it’s a good movie. The film has a very interesting flavor and story, but it drags far too much for such a short feature. The three characters are neither likeable nor interesting, and I didn’t find myself all that worried about their survival. Modern found-footage has learned a lot from The Blair Witch Project, but as this was a relatively new subgenre, mistakes are made that hamper the whole experience.

I can’t deny the film’s impact, though. It held a Guinness World Record for Box Office Ratio by making back almost 11,000 times its budget. The cultural impact of the film was massive and actually convinced many viewers that the film was real (strange because the credits are quite apparent whereas other films like Paranormal Activity tried to hide it better). Fans flocked to Maryland to learn that they were indeed wrong. All three actors stayed in character for the entirety of the eight-day shoot unless one had to utter the safety word, taco. Altogether, this must have been a grueling eight days.

The Blair Witch Project deserves more recognition that I’ve given it, but it still isn’t a good movie. An amazing idea doesn’t automatically ensure a great film, and poor character development is the cardinal sin of this horror classic. Worth watching if you’ve never seen it, but I think I’m good for the next 17 years.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[Early Review] Blair Witch (2016)

blairwitch2016a
Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry
Screenplay: Simon Barrett
89 mins. Rated R for language, terror and some disturbing images.
Blair Witch is a collection of footage found back in 2014 filmed by Lisa Arlington (Callie Hernandez, Machete Kills) and her friends James (James Allen McCune, Anna Nicole, Snitch), Ashley (Corbin Reid) and Peter (Brandon Scott, Wreck-It Ralph, Walk of Shame). James believes that his sister Heather, who went missing more than a decade prior, is still alive and lost in the Black Hills Woods in Maryland. As Lisa chronicles the experience for a student film, the four find themselves lost in the woods as they are pursued by a unnerving presence known as the Blair Witch.
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So I got lucky enough to see this film recently and I have to say, a lot of my colleagues from San Diego Comic Con that got to see a cut of this film right after it was announced to be a sequel to The Blair Witch Project really loved the film, and I enjoyed it, way more than the original, but I found the film to still be lacking.
I was happy that the screenplay really entrentched itself in the mythology of the Blair Witch. It answered a lot of questions without straight feeding answers. It also created a lot of confusion over exactly what the Witch is and what its capable of.
The performances are okay. I wasn’t sold on the main actors portrayals. It felt like the actors were reading off cue cards. The cinematography, a character all its own, far too often finds itself all over the place. While that may provide more realism, it doesn’t really make for an interesting movie.
Thank God that Blair Witch has much more frequent action than the original film, and I was blown away by some of the scares in the film (it still has too many jump scares that don’t work). The constantly creepy tone and editing build pretty nicely toward a shocking conclusion (that also left me frustrated upon exiting the theater).
blairwitch2016b
Overall, I enjoyed watching Blair Witch, but I want to tell you that it isn’t the “game-changer” that some reviewers have led you to believe it is. It was fun, enjoyable, shocking, and exciting, but while it adds a lot to the franchise, it doesn’t take the series anywhere new.
3/5
-Kyle A. Goethe
For my review of Adam Wingard’s You’re Next, click here.
For my review of the anthology film The ABCs of Death, click here.

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