The ‘Blair Witch’ is back… and this time, you can feel it.
It’s been 17 years since the original ‘Blair Witch Project’ appeared in cinemas, and a lot has changed. The first film was a viral sensation, leveraging creepy ‘missing persons’ flyers and rumours that this film might just be the real deal to create a truly immersive experience.
Created for just $60,000, ‘The Blair Witch Project’ made over $250 million at the box office.
So how can the new sequel rival that?
‘Blair Witch’ takes James Donahue into the woods where his sister disappeared. And with a new twist on the original, it looks as though found footage is back and better than ever. But if you want to experience it in even more depth?
There’s always 4DX…
What is 4DX technology?
4DX allows a motion picture to be augmented with environmental effects that you experience in the cinema… including motion, wind, rain, fog, strobe lighting, and even smells alongside the usual video and audio.
“We call it a multisensory screen experience,” said Cineworld’s Senior VP of Marketing, Justin Skinner at the Cardiff 4DX Gala. “This is the first time you’re getting a full Hollywood movie using sixteen different senses and sensations. There’s something like sixteen different smells, then you’ve got the wind and the strobe and even bubbles.”
“You are feeling lots of individual senses as part of it.”
It’s currently exclusive to Cineworld, with screens across the country able to utilise this new technology.
But what does it add to the films?
“I was watching ‘Suicide Squad’ in 4DX,” said Skinner, “And there’s a lot of shooting in that. You get the little pumps of the shots in the back of the seat and then there are air jets - if you get a shot that kind of whistles past you, you’re properly feeling it.”
It may sound like a bit of a gimmick (and essentially, it is) but 4DX converts your average blockbuster into the kind of experience you’d expect to find at Universal Studios or the like. With the addition of motion, wind, strobe effects and even smells, the idea behind 4DX is to add another layer to the cinema experience.
And with a film like ‘Blair Witch’ it really works.
I have to admit - I wasn’t sold on the idea right away. I first experienced 4DX with a showing of ‘Jurassic World’. It’s a great tech demo for 4DX, throwing you around the screen for two-and-a-half hours with water splashing in your face and enormous turbines that almost blow you away whenever the heroes clamber into a helicopter.
When it came to ‘Blair Witch’ I was reluctant.
More than anything, I worried that 4DX would simply pull me out of the film.
The original ‘Blair Witch Project’ made a name for itself as a low-budget horror. It was so effective because we had no idea what to expect, and drew the audience in with understated creepiness. It wasn’t bold or brash or in your face.
Would 4DX really add to that?
Essentially, ‘Blair Witch’ shows just how versatile the 4DX experience can be. Instead of the huge, sweeping movements and action-packed turbulence of ‘Jurassic World’, we were given an altogether more subtle use of the technology in ‘Blair Witch’. The chairs bump and rumble during scenes where the lead characters are sprinting through the woods, but the best bits are when you least expect it.
That’s right - 4DX ramps up the scares to phenomenal levels.
A film like ‘Blair Witch’ is built on jump scares, and the 4DX tech makes them far worse than you imagine. If a character is snatched off screen and dragged off through the woods, you feel it. The eerie tension of our happy campers leaving their tents in the dead of night is made even more real by an actual shiver as you feel the cold night air breezing over you.
And when it gets to the house… there’s nothing more terrifying than a door slamming behind you, and feeling it in the small of your back.
4DX is a multisensory experience, and in ‘Blair Witch’ it hits you on all fronts.
But it isn’t relentless.
Unlike the big action blockbusters, ‘Blair Witch’ uses 4DX to tremendously subtle effect, adding yet another layer of scares to an already pretty impressive horror flick. Having seen the film with and without 4DX, I’d recommend you give this one a go. It’s a brilliant use of the technology and even the most die-hard horror fan might find themselves experiencing new scares in ways they’d never imagined.
4DX definitely isn’t for every film. But for ‘Blair Witch’ it makes a chilling movie even more terrifying.
‘Blair Witch’ opened in cinemas on 16 September 2016.
Picture Credit: Cineworld, Lionsgate