Well That Wasn’t Fun

I love horror movies. Too bad these ones both suck

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Blair Witch
Now playing, wide
rating-1

Don’t Breathe
Now playing, wide
rating-2

For a little while there, it looked good for horror movies. The Babadook, It Follows, Goodnight Mommy and The Witch (which I didn’t care for, but at least it put in the thought and effort) broke with the pack and added some brains to the visceral thrills of the genre.

Then, nothing. Truth to be told, none of those movies made enough money to inspire imitators.

If the mild thrills of The Conjuring 2 didn’t do it for you, 2016 has been a wasteland: the greatest success story is Lights Out, and its only merit was to have slightly smarter characters than your average slasher fodder.

The two scary movies currently in theatres may be racking up some dough, but keep the bar very low.

Blair Witch, a sequel/rehash of the indie sensation from 17 years ago, is the worst offender. In spite of a larger budget and much improved technology (drones, GPS, GoPro), the scares are identical to the film that inspired it. Loud noises and shaky cameras don’t replace a plot, and Blair Witch doesn’t have one. It also lacks the fresh documentary feel that set its predecessor apart (the cast is noticeably acting. Ugh).

A disappointment, considering what the writer-director team of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett has delivered in the past (You’re Next, The Guest).

Don’t Breathe is slightly better only because it fleshes-out the characters a bit more than Blair Witch, plus it has reliable character actor Stephen Lang as the villain. The set-up has a degree of originality (three burglars enter the crumbling home of a blind man who happens to be a killing machine), but doesn’t follow through and after a couple of twists it’s just jump scare after jump scare. I also call foul on the standardization of sexual violence against women in horror films. More often than not, this component provides no dramatic value and it’s used for titillation’s sake (routinizating rape is hugely problematic).

I should’ve had fun reviewing a couple of horror films. I didn’t. You’re better off staying home.