The long-awaited Blair Witch Project follow-up doesn’t have a theme song, but if it did I’d suggest Teddy Bear Picnic. In particular the line, “If you go out in the woods today you’re in for a big surprise,” because, boy, there are some shockers in the movie’s dense woods.
“When I saw our film I was scared,” says Corbin Reid who plays Ashley in Blair Witch, in theatres today.
“I actually had chills,” chimes in co-star Wes Robinson. “I thought that was cool because I don’t think that’s an easy feat for someone who was there shooting it, who read the script and knew everything that was going to happen. It is the combination of the shots and the sound design and everything.”
Shot last year with the woods of Squamish, B.C., subbing in for the story’s haunted woods, the movie follows James (James Allen McCune) who was only four years old when his sister vanished while making a 1994 documentary about a witch said to haunt the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland. James thinks his sister may still be alive. Cue the jump scares, red herrings, things that go bump in the woods and close-ups of scared young people.
“Not to get too macabre,” says Corbin, “but I think one of the reasons people are attracted to horror is because you’re dealing with death in a safe space. It is something unknown to everyone. We don’t know what happens after we die, but you get this fictional setting that you can live it out in. There is something about exposing yourself to your fears. If you can laugh at it or move through it, it forces you to deal with it. You become the master of it.”
Robinson praises director Adam Wingard’s skill at scare making. “Adam always gives you a real sense of security in his films. Then when you’re not expecting it, he takes it away.”
“It gives you time to really sink into the psychological aspect of it,” adds Corbin. “You establish the relationships, and then you have something to lose. It’s not just trick after trick after trick. That’s the thing I love about the filmmaking. It’s not cheap. Everything is earned and everything is smart. It is thought out. I think that’s why there is such an effect.”
In Blair Witch, Wingard does a good job with body horror — ick — and primal fears of the dark, small spaces in the unknown. “Everyone’s fear is represented at some point in this movie,” says Wes.
Corbin and Wes spent two months in the woods shooting and getting inside the new story, but how familiar were they with the 1999 film? Corbin was just eleven years old when the original movie caused a sensation but that didn’t stop her from trying to see it. “I went with my sister and she didn’t know it was rated R,” she says. “She got in but my mom had to come pick me up.”
“I actually saw it in the theatre,” says Wes. “I was with a lot of adults. We went to see it and it traumatized me. It’s weird where life takes you, though, because I had no idea when I watched it that I would do the sequel one day.”