Blair Witch Teaser Trailer Analysis
Blair Witch Film Details
Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Release Date: 16 September 2016 (USA)
Release Format: Theater Release
Genre: Horror, Thriller
“Involve a group of college students on a camping trip who discover they are not alone.”
The trailer opens with an established shot over a dense forest. An excerpt is superimposed on the screen. These testimonials serve as the influential marketing tool. The aim is to build consumer (audiences) confidence in the product (Blair Witch) by offering credible feedback from reputable reference (news sources). This tried-and-true tactic stirs decision thus contributing to successful sales figures. This is what the marketing team behind the film are hoping for.
The shot fades to black. A slow fade transitions into an established shot over a flowing river. The final sequence to the picturesque photomontage is a track shot set within the forest. Thirty seconds worth of nature footage. It almost seems as if the viewer is watching a trailer to “The Revenant” sequel.
Four backpackers track along a hikers trail. Now it doesn’t take long before the cliché begin to manifest. Nailed to a tree is a decayed signage, “No entry after nightfall” the warning reads. Let’s take a moment to assess this scenario. Isolated setting, four unsuspecting characters and an ominous message. Where have audiences seen this set-up before?
The next series of shots are that of the characters themselves. Receiving first screen time credit is a caucasian female, mid-twenties. It’s plausible she’s may be the protagonist of the story. Of course, this is speculation. Next, we have a male perhaps in mid-twenties and the only African American character in the film. Of course, this is an industry standard it seems. This particular character is absent from the rest of the trailer. Questionable. Does said African American character perish first as offered in a Horror cinema cliché?
The next frame is of particular interest. The scene features the characters settled within a circle in the background. A female approaches them. She makes a slow turn to the camera. At this moment, another testimony superimposed on the screen is another excerpt. The quote assures the viewer that Blair Witch is a frightening film.
Two established shots follow. Each presents the nearing dawn. Now under the cast of darkness sits the cast of characters, each huddle around a campfire. The 16th of September. This is the scheduled release for the film. How convenient to superimpose the date on the screen.
A slow fade-in introduces the viewer to a disheveled woman, her back turned away from the camera. It’s safe to assume that the next series of clips will focus on the fear factor of the film.
A track shot follows someone running through the woods. A partial excerpt superimposes on the screen. Within seconds the footage transitions into someone trapped in a water-filled cavern. The identity of the hapless soul becomes clear. A woman, one of the backpackers struggles to either stay afloat or climb out of the muck. Either way, she is not doing a good job on both.
A close-up shot of a crying woman. A wide shot of a male peering through the dirty window of a dilapidated cabin follows. So far there is nothing presented that warrants acclaim or attention. The film is following a textbook approach to the “danger in the woods” Horror concept. This may not be the exact terminology. Yet, sequences presented parallel many releases set against the wilderness backdrop.
A first person perspective, the viewer is witness to someone clawing through the dirt. The next frame uses the same filmmaking method. For the latter, someone is removing an unknown substance from an open wound. A build in tension mounts. Another close-up, this time of a woman extends help with desperation. Perhaps she’s trying to rescue the fallen camper trapped in the cavern.
A sequence of scenes all falling under shaky found footage camera work. Ridiculousness. A woman falls, a frightened male runs for dear life. Screams and a dirt covered female comprise this photomontage.
The message fragments compose the following: “There is something evil hiding in The Woods”.
Presented is only a teaser trailer to Blair Witch. The material is insufficient to make an educated guess towards a formal analysis. Yet, this didn’t stop the internet buzz. Claims erupted to Blair Witch being the scariest film to date. Let’s make it clear Hollywood has yet to conceive a Horror film that delivers in fright and substance.
Directing Blair Witch is Adam Wingard. Wingard’s previous work are notable insertions in the Horror and Thriller genres. Wingard is also set to direct the white-wash version to “Death Note”. Blair Witch hardly stands on solid ground against Wingard’s previous work. Why? The answer is quite simple. Found Footage.
For Hollywood, the found-footage approach is the go-to method of modern Horror cinema. Reboots, remakes, and sequels round out the industry’s approach to the genre. With cheap thrills and jump scares, the found-footage approach may appeal to casual fright-fans . Yet, this type of filmmaking offers a lazy approach to cinematic quality. Not to mention the template basics on story development. In a recent tweet Adam Wingard offered the following testament:
This is my first full on “shit your pants” horror film.
This is my first full on “shit your pants” horror film. https://t.co/uWB3jA6RJk
— Adam Wingard (@AdamWingard) May 10, 2016
There is nothing wrong with tooting your own horn. Winegard has the film production experience to back up said claim. Yet, the old saying holds true; “actions speak louder than words”. Recently, another horror film made a similar claim. The end result? The movie fell short with expectations among critics and audiences. The film in question is Blair Witch .
Marketing is a major influence in the film industry. Many news sources are eager to chant praise in return for some free advertising. Yet, the consumer, in the end, is the sacrificial lamb. Time and money disintegrate on a film that promised to be a terrifying experience. Filmmakers claim box office sales with lackluster work. Of course, this assumption is not made against Blair Witch. Yet, the current trend and track record Hollywood presents to the Horror genre speaks for itself.
In closing, become an educated consumer before buying that next movie ticket. Cut through the testimonies and eye candy and execute a sound decision. Can Blair Witch offer the promised “shit your pants” frights? Not Likely.
Are ninety minutes of dizzying camera work a reputable form of entertainment? Story structure, rich characters, and genre defining engagement are passing thoughts in Hollywood. Thus, a fascinating Horror film is a forgotten dream for most.