Comic-Con: Adam Wingard’s THE WOODS is actually a BLAIR WITCH sequel! Watch the trailer!

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Well, how’s this for a plot twist? Adam Wingard, the directing wunderkind behind You’re Next and The Guest has been working on The Woods, a mystery project with screenwriting partner Simon Barrett, for some time now. Except The Woods doesn’t actually exist. Which may have led to Wingard having to do some very awkward explaining at the Comic-Con panel for The Woods earlier today where the film was supposed to be screened, if it wasn’t for the surprising reveal that The Woods is actually a secret sequel to The Blair Witch Project!

The Woods was our working title. 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.

Those sneaky hobbitses! The Blair Witch Project was arguably the film that truly kicked off and popularized the modern found footage horror, as it became one of the first cases of using an engrossing viral marketing campaign to build the buzz about the movie prior to its release in 1999. The marketing – which included fake websites and made-up media coverage – was so good, that many people who saw the movie were still unsure of whether or not it was real documentary footage or not. What was undoubtedly 100% real was the film’s gigantic profit margin, as its buzz propelled it to a $248 million box office earning off a budget of just $60, 000!

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Naturally, the film had a sequel the following year, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, but this follow-up ditched the found footage format. It also didn’t get its predecessor’s critical and commercial success, as it was savaged by reviewers and could only manage to pull in $47.7 million off a $15 million budget.

Wingard’s new movie, simply titled Blair Witch, is looking to erase the bad taste of that film, as it’s setting itself up as a proper sequel to the original. Newcomer James Allen McCune stars as a young man trying to find out what happened to his sister who disappeared many years ago. His sister being Heather Donahue, the character/person (actors used their real names in the original to sell the “authenticity” even more) last seen in the first film’s shocking final scene.

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Wingard revealed that plans for Blair Witch has been in the pipeline since 2013 already, when Lionsgate exec Jason Constantine contacted him and Barrett for a secret meeting about doing a sequel to The Blair Witch Project. Constantine had this to say about keeping this whole thing under wraps since then.

“It really has been fascinating, all the CIA-level security that we have put around this project, from the very beginning. It’s incredible to think about how many people needed to know about it to bring this movie to life — and yet we ended up not having any leaks in that regard.”

But now the cat is officially out of the bag as the folks lucky enough to be in attendance got to see Blair Witch in its entirety. Here are some of the reactions (via /Film) which has been almost universally positive!

 

Bloody Disgusting:

Blair Witch won’t affect seasoned horror fans (as much), but rest assured that it will destroyeveryone else. This film will hurt people. It’s the emotional experience that transcends traditional narrative storytelling and ascends to a place of Nirvana. What I mean by this is that, whether they can verbalize it or not, moviegoers understand the basic structure to a story. So, while someone watching Blair Witch may think they know what’s going to happen next, they don’t. The film breaks the mold of traditional horror and pushes the boundaries to the absolute brink.

Some will laud it, others will loathe it, but make no mistake: Blair Witch is that game-changer horror fans desperately have been waiting for. It will usher in a new breed of genre films that are targeted at creating an emotional experience above all else. “Scary” is probably an understatement as this may just be the first film since The Exorcist that will leave younger audiences scarred for life.

The Daily Beast:

From deep within the endless forest, Blair Witch delivers the kind of memorably claustrophobic new scares that bring the genre back to its grab-the-armchairs roller coaster roots.

Blair Witch diehards should rejoice, not the least because this new offering pays meticulous homage to the original—particularly through painstakingly recreated production design. Its metaphysical additions to the mythology give the franchise its greatest gift: a future. Just when found footage and the Blair Witch saga seemed like relics from horror cinema’s past, it seems there might actually be new reason to return to the woods.

And for us folk not so lucky to be in San Diego today, Wingard and co even had a full trailer for the secret film ready to go! Check it out below!

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Well, damn. Looks like I won’t be going camping any time soon.

Blair Witch releases in the US on September 16. No word yet on a local release date. Which is completely understandable seeing as we didn’t even know this movie existed 24 hours ago.

Last Updated: January 4, 2017

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Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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