Comic-Con 2016 | Don’t Watch The New ‘Blair Witch’ Trailer

The cat’s out of the bag: The Woods, the mysterious new movie from The Guest and You’re Next filmmakers Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, is actually a sequel to The Blair Witch Project. The news came in the middle of the film’s first screening at Comic-Con 2016, where I was fortunate enough to see Blair Witch without knowing its true nature beforehand. By the time the film ended, the whole world knew.

It was, in no uncertain terms, a fabulously well-kept secret. But that secret couldn’t have lasted long. Blair Witch isn’t a stealthy sequel. It is abundantly clear from the first frame of Blair Witch that it is a follow-up to The Blair Witch Project. Revealing that the film is a sequel, on its own, ruins nothing.

The newly released trailer, however, ruins a LOT. It represents a fascinating disconnect between a work of art and its marketing. Adam Wingard’s new film may not be an instant classic (my full review is here) but it’s certainly in keeping with The Blair Witch Project‘s overall aesthetic. It’s not a fast-paced film that’s full of high-octane shock scares. Instead, Blair Witch lights a fuse and invites you to revel in the suspense of waiting for the firecrack.


Also: Comic-Con 2016 Review | The (Blair) Witch is Back!

But the Blair Witch trailer doesn’t work that way. Honestly I’m actually rather sympathetic to the marketing team. Marketing materials usually have to rely on flash to get their point across, as quickly and as effectively as possible. But when the movie you’re marketing isn’t consistently flashy, and you put a very large percentage of the big scares in the trailer anyway, then you’re actively doing the movie a disservice. Audiences who go into Blair Witch having seen the new trailer will already be familiar with the film’s most disturbing shots and set pieces. And familiarity just doesn’t go hand-in-hand with terror (unless you lead a particularly terrifying day-to-day existence, at any rate).

Obviously, you can still watch the trailer if you want to. It’s online right now. But the thing is, you can’t unsee it afterwards. I’ve often argued that any information the studio is comfortable putting in a trailer cannot reasonably be called a spoiler, but that’s not the case this time. This preview doesn’t lay out the whole plot, but I think you’ll agree that, once you’ve finally watched Blair Witch, it shows way too much of “the good stuff,” and in a way that doesn’t represent the actual film that Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett made. You see a whole lot of images of what’s about to happen in the trailer, but without any of the suspenseful craftsmanship that would make those moments effectively scary.

Blair Witch arrives in theaters on September 16, 2016. If you’re going to see it, see it without watching the trailer, and then watch the trailer right afterwards. I suspect you’ll come to the same conclusion I did, that the best-kept secret in Hollywood wasn’t so much revealed tonight, as it was blurted.

Top Photo: Lionsgate

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved, Rapid Reviews and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.


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