Oh, you wily little movie, you. You almost had me. Well, OK, let’s be honest, you did have me. I went into this film thinking it was Found Footage. I was on my endless trek through the wonders of the found footage subgenre and happened on this import. It was dubbed, but that was OK, we’d get through it.
Well, little did we know that this was a hybrid film where it used POV camera work via GoPros and handheld with traditional filmmaking.
Oh, that’s crafty.
WORSE, it ripped off an idea I had for the Blair Witch remake…which…came…after this movie was made…so they didn’t rip it off…BUT THEY STILL DID!
(Though not really at all).
Needless to say, this is not found footage.
I am still going to review it though because we DID watch it and it has that coming to it.
IT HAS IT COMIN’!
THE WIDOW follows a Search & Rescue team as it is dispatched into the deep Russian woods to find a missing boy. The team’s work is being chronicled so there is a record of what they do, but little does anyone know the danger they are heading into. The area where the boy has gone missing is thickly forested and is hard to traverse. As the group is searching, they come across a nude woman who is in distress. She warns the group of ‘the widow’ a vengeful spirit that haunts the woods and kills all who enter that space. She tells them the story of the widow, who was once but a mortal woman, and how she seeks to trap and kill all who enter her woods out of a misguided desire for vengeance. The team doesn’t believe her and loads her into their truck and heads out to look for the boy once more. They are quickly trapped though by fallen trees and forks in the path where there should be none. The team splits up to look for the boy and to stay with the woman and this is when the horror of the curse begins to take hold. There are mysterious sounds, sudden disappearances, and the feeling that someone or something is watching them. As the woman mutters on and on about the widow and the danger she poses it begins to appear that there may be something to the myth after all.
Let’s get right to it, this is a Blair Witch riff. Like, it’s essentially a sequel in all but name only. It’s a creepy ‘witch’ in a haunted woods, with people losing sense of space direction, and there’s a nebulous curse against those that spurned her. No, this isn’t an OFFICIAL sequel but man alive did they take that template and run with it. That’s not meant as a knock against it, as this film is full of atmosphere and does a good job of creating tension. The use of a SAR team is GREAT. That sort of work seems perfect for these sorts of stories, and they used it well. If you are looking for a Blair adjacent film, you can find much, much worse.
The problem is though that THE WIDOW doesn’t have its own identity.
We aren’t given a real reason for her to do what she’s doing, as, spoiler, she’s villainous, and we don’t get any notion that she isn’t. Her revenge is just her being a jerk.
But the reasons for the things that happen in the film aren’t grounded in a myth. THAT’S part of the power of Blair Witch Project, that it grounds it all in myth and story. We get the story of the widow, then just more of – She’s Gon’ Getcha! – and little else. That’s great but it doesn’t tell me that these stacks of random hay mean anything. Or that the mill we see means anything, or that ANY of the moments we see mean anything. It’s just a creep woods movie with no real direction.
It’s like by watching the film the widow got US!
The acting is good – physical, not voice – the filming is good, the sound is well done – though confusing when you can’t tell what is music and what is Spooky Sound – and it’s a well-made film. It just doesn’t really know what its ‘monster’ is and as such, neither do we, so we don’t know what to fear. We hear scary monster sounds, we see a scary, sorta lady, and there are people that are possessed, and there are some snatched up by trees…but WHY?
That’s the question.
This isn’t a bad film, as I say a lot, just one that doesn’t really have any direction or idea what it’s trying to say. Had they better defined the widow they could have had their own franchise with a lot of stories therein. Alas, as it is, we just have one movie that feels longer than it is and which makes you scratch your head as you try to figure out WHAT you are supposed to be freaked out about, other than the general WOOOOOOOO of it all.
Decent, not great.
2.5 out of 5
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