The least enthusiastic thing that I can say about Blair Witch is that it made me feel older than I’ve felt in a movie for a long time. Watching it play out as what amounts to a highly-polished tribute to the legacy of the original Blair Witch Project, I’m reminded of two things: that said original really did come out that long ago, and that what to me was just another mildly clever indie horror movie I saw in 1999 was a kind of generational touchstone to horror fans slightly younger than me and horror filmmakers who were cutting their teeth when it first blew up.To be frank, I’m in the camp that recalls The Blair Witch Project as more of a cultural phenomenon than a movie in its own right. It was a well-executed low-tech revival of the so-called “found footage” genre (forerunners include The Last Broadcast and the notorious Cannibal Holocaust) that worked well enough on its own terms. But what really gave the property “legs” was a brilliantly staged promotional blitz.It consisted of a cleverly-mounted hype campaign taking advantage of then-new Internet ubiquity that had people thinking it was “real” via a dizzying whirlwind of fake websites and half-baked mythology. It didn’t have anything to do with the film, but made obsessive fans feel like they were part of something. Then, instead of continuing to wear out its welcome, the franchise promptly pissed away the entirety of that goodwill on an ill-conceived sequel (Blair Witch II: Book of Shadows). It then took a dirt nap for almost two decades, meaning that this new “official” follow-up can arrive feeling (at least at first) like a welcome nostalgia trip than another plunge back into the well.In case you forgot, the pretext of The Blair Witch Project was that we were seeing the inexplicably-recovered last known video footage shot by three film students who disappeared while making a documentary about a supposedly haunted Maryland forest. The footage shows a strange descent into confusion and paranoia that could be taken either as video evidence of a haunting or of general madness.The hook this time around is that the younger brother of original lead character Heather, now a grown adult still haunted by her disappearance and the resulting media circus (read: the first movie coming out), has found new evidence suggesting his sister is somehow still alive in the woods. He enlists his friends to help him go looking for more answers; joined at first by a pair of impoverished locals who offer to act as guides. As you may expect, things go badly for them.It all starts off very promisingly, mostly by heavily implying right upfront that we’re seemingly not just getting the first movie all over again. It’s established that our heroes are smart and prepared rather than just another trio of snarky dipshits, they’re personally invested with a mission rather than just dicking around to make a cheesy video project. They’re going in prepared with local guides, GPS, phones, walkie-talkies, head-mounted cameras a shitload of batteries and even a goddamn aerial surveillance drone. Granted, it looks more like they raided a Best Buy camera department on Black Friday than anything else, but in terms of hardware “firepower” it’s practically an Alien to Aliens upgrade.And I’ll admit, the possibilities raised by that setup got me suitably pumped: This feels like the ideal angle for a Blair Witch sequel! Not only are you doing some meta-commentary by answering the most tiresome lingering critiques of the original (“Why didn’t they just _____!?” “I would’ve done _____ and survived!”) you’re also setting up a scenario where whatever it is in that woods that’s gonna fuck with these kids is gonna have to fuck with them in entirely different ways. You’re basically writing yourself into a corner where you can’t just make the first movie over again……but then they just sort of make the first movie again, anyway.Sure, there’s a sort of unexpected new wrinkle thrown in at the start of Act 2. And the up to date video equipment and the drone do get used to keep the visuals lively and interesting, but in terms of actual narrative the movie barrels headlong into “we’re lost and all the gear isn’t working!” territory as fast as it can. It then settles into a cover set of The Blair Witch’s Greatest Hits: Unreliable map, time-displacement, scary noises, stickmen, rockpiles, face in the camera, spooky house, stand in the corner, was-that-or-wasn’t-that-a-witch, goodnight Cleveland there will be no encore.To be certain, in that regard it’s not bad! In fact, I’d rank it up there with the original: Clever gag reel, basically works, no earthly reason to watch it twice. What overall disappointment I have is that the first act got my hopes up that this was going to expand and build on the Blair Witch “foundations” into something more interesting. But you’ve got to review the movie they set out to make and not the movie you’d rather they’d made; and it’s pretty clear that “expanding” wasn’t ever the mission here.This is basically a Blair Witch Project “fan-film,” a tribute to the legacy of a game-changing horror movie by filmmakers who’ve clearly come up in its influence. Hell, they even did their own reversed version of the original’s gimmicky hype machine: They shot this under the fake title of “The Woods” and didn’t tell anybody that it was actually Blair Witch 3 until a couple months ago to preserve the surprise.And within that context of “The Blair Witch Project, but with a budget;” it delivers. All the classic beats and iconography show up, but this time cranked up one extra step. Instead of just hearing forest noises, whole trees fall over. Instead of shaking the tents, they get yanked up into the sky. Instead of just implying possession and influence, we get some Cronenberg body-horror business. The stickmen show up, but this time we actually see what they’re FOR (and it’s pretty damn cool!) The scary house feels more expansive and scarier, we see a teeny-weeny little bit of the monster instead of no monster and there’s one standout totally new gag involving tunnels that is some seriously nerve-wracking white knuckle pure horror if you’ve got even an inkling of claustrophobia.So yeah, it’s fun. The writer/director team here is Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett who were behind the V/H/S movies, The Guest, and the excellent You’re Next. So they’ve got horror movie chops to spare and in terms of the fairly mid-level hurdle of making a Blair Witch tribute-reboot they pull it off pretty handily. I just wish it had more going on or more to say for itself than “Hey, remember The Blair Witch Project? That sure was a thing that existed, huh!?”*** (of four)
8Bitdo’s SN30 Wireless Gamepad is a Perfect Controller for the SNE…8Bitdo SNES Classic Edition Wireless Controller Now Available for Pre-Order Stay on target In just a few months Nintendo will grace us with the Super NES Classic Edition, a $80 miniature version of its beloved 16-bit console packed with 21 absolutely incredible games. It’s like last year’s NES Classic but it has EarthBound and the unreleased Star Fox 2 instead of bad games like Castlevania II. It’s sure to be a hot item this fall so if you want one you better check out our tips for making sure you can get one (spoilers: there’s not much you can do, so maybe get an alternative?).The SNES Classic doesn’t launch until September 29, but at a recent event here in New York I got to go hands on with the cute little retro box. No, I couldn’t actually plug it in and play any of the games. But I could physically put my hands on it, hold a tiny SNES in my palm, admire the recreated controllers (with longer cords), and take some pictures. So enjoy these new snapshots of the SNES Classic in “action.”View as: One Page Slides1/81. Aside from some boring cables, here’s what comes in the box for the Super NES Classic.2. A SNES you can hold in the palm of your hand. What a world!3. Classic box art for a classic console.4. Remember when they used to put games on the boxes for game consoles? The Super NES Classic wants you to know what you can play on it.5. The recreated Super NES controller, in all its purple-and-gray glory. It feels pretty good.6. The controller cord is longer than the infamously short NES Classic cord.7. Plug in both included controllers for retro multiplayer delight.8. It may not look it, but I love the Super NES Classic.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.
Stay on target A Maryland man is in hot water after he posted a video on Facebook that shows him attacking a federally protected pelican in the Florida Keys.UPDATE: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have announced Monday that they are in the process of preparing a warrant on two criminal charges — animal cruelty and molestation of a protected species — in connection with this case.In the video, the man, Hunter Hardesty, can be seen luring a pelican to the dock with what appears to be a small fish, and then jumping into the water on top of the bird. He re-emerges from the water holding it in his hands while friends off-camera laugh at the stunt. The pelican then tried to bite him before getting away. “He will be held accountable for this attack on wildlife,” Ramsay posted on his Facebook page. “Thanks to everyone who provided help with the video, identification and where he lives.”FWC will be taking the lead on the case, sheriff spokesman Adam Linhardt told the Miami Herald on Sunday. “The sheriff also has received information regarding previous violations,” Linhardt said. “One of them involves [Hardesty] possibly holding a Key deer.”Under state law in Florida, it is illegal even to try to attract a pelican, according to the Miami Herald.“The intentional feeding or the placement of food that attracts pelicans and modifies the natural behavior of the pelican so as to be detrimental to the survival or health of a local population is prohibited,” the law states.More on Geek.com:Watch: Kangaroo Punches Paragalider That Landed On Its TurfJaguar Attacks Woman Taking a Selfie in Arizona ZooMassive Alligator Gar Carcass Pulled From Louisiana Lagoon A woman can be heard shouting: “If you don’t get out of there right now I’m going to call security.”As angry commenters started posting their criticism, Hardesty offered no apologies.“I’m so hungry I could eat a pelican!!!” he posted on Facebook.But it seems Hardesty will face more than just angry Facebook commenters.Monroe County sheriff, Rick Ramsey, said that he had contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferWatch: Deep-Sea Octopus ‘Billows Like a Circus Tent’