For many horror movie fans, 1999’s The Blair Witch Project holds a special place in their hearts. It’s not just that the film blurred the lines of fact and fiction with its one of a kind marketing campaign leading up to the film’s release. Nor is it solely because the film is genuinely frightening. Rather, what is possibly the most unique aspect about The Blair Witch Project is that it did so much on so little and kick-started an entire new genre of horror filmmaking in the process.
Fortunately, horror movie fans are often a relatively forgiving bunch when it comes to re-imagining their favorite titles. In the (brief) lead up to Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch for example, fans of the original film tended to avoid knee-jerk reactions to the mere idea of a new sequel and instead remained cautious yet curious. Will they ultimately approve of this latest entry in the franchise? And even beyond the fans – what does the original cast who played such a huge role in making The Blair Witch Project what it ultimately became think?
Well, so far the entire cast of The Blair Witch Project haven’t spoken up with their personal verdicts on Blair Witch, but at least one of the stars of the 1999 horror classic has. During a recent interview with HitFix, Joshua Leonard, who played himself in the original film, discussed his opinion of Blair Witch, revealing that among other things, he felt the film was “really cool.” Said Leonard:
I did see it. I saw ... My very pregnant wife and I went to see a screening last week and we really enjoyed it. ...It's probably the follow-up that somebody should have made three years after the first movie. I think it took this long because Book of Shadows, I think, left a bad taste in people's mouths. But no, I thought it was really cool. I thought it was interesting the way they updated it with technology that we didn't have at the time. I thought the actors were great. I thought the scares were really solid. I think Adam Wingard is a wonderful director and does genre as well as anybody out there right now.
Leonard was also candid about the fact that Lionsgate had contacted him prior to getting Blair Witch off the ground and assured him that what they were trying to do with the sequel was in the spirit of the original film. For his part, Leonard was excited for a new installment in the franchise.
You know, again, I was excited about it. People were like, "Are you pissed off that you're not involved?" I'm like, "That was almost two decades ago." Definitely time to pass the baton. Let somebody else approach it fresh. But it was also nice to be included and considered.
As of this writing, Blair Witch’s early box office tally isn’t looking especially promising. Opening with a projected 3-day total that’s currently lower than the opening of 2000’s much despised Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, even a glowing review from a cast member of the original might not be enough to save it.
Then again, The Blair Witch Project’s record-breaking box office take was no indication of how much people enjoyed it. Leonard admits that even today people still ask him for their money back. The true test is appeasing fans of the franchise and at this point, it’s too early to know what their final verdict will be.
Blair Witch is currently in theaters.