N.K.V.D. Haunts the Blair Witch


Over the weekend, Leif Bearikson and I held each other like frightened children faced terror together and checked out the new Blair Witch film. Perhaps unsurprisingly, at one point in the film, a black metal song, one of only three non-atmospheric tracks used in the sound design for the movie, is used to set a tone of fear and desolation as the intrepid protagonists make their journey into the dark heart of the wilderness. Oddly, though, the song chosen was not one of a distinctly sylvan variety. No, the bleak, gothic decay of eminent French industrial black metal musician Loic F. was chosen as the weirdly disconcerting score for a particularly Hawthornian romp in the woods.

The song in question is the self-titled track from N.K.V.D.’s third release, Hakmarrja. The scene in question is one in which shifty social derelict and amateur paranormal investigator Lane, along with his girlfriend Talia, leads an expedition deep into the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland. As Lane and Talia penetrate the black, imposing edifice of the forest primeval that swallows the forgotten town of Blair and acts as the primary setting of the film, the urban, imperious vocals of Loic F. blare through Lane’s speakers, accompanied by grinding diesel guitars and a pneumatic bass kick. It’s typical fare from Loic, mastermind behind Toilet favorites Autokrator, but the industrial churning creates an oddly dissonant effect considered in light of the film’s arboreal location.

Perhaps that’s the point, though. Loic’s music is meant to subvert fascist themes and imagery to reveal the corrupt heart between absolute power. Director Adam Wingard may have chosen the song specifically to create a binary opposition against which to set the opposing forces of the unassailable march of technology and capitalism against the ancient, eldritch forces that owned this world in past eons. Perhaps the song’s contradictory placement is meant to tell a Young Goodman Brown-style cautionary tale of delving too deeply into arcane secrets and layers of shadowy subterfuge.

Maybe Wingard simply likes the song and thought it would create a spooky atmosphere.

As for the movie, your feelings on it will likely depend on how you answer the following two questions:

  1. “Self, do I like found footage horror movies?”
  2. “Self, did I see the original Blair Witch Project?”

If you answered yes to question 1, I genuinely think you will find Blair Witch enjoyable, if not entirely original or frightening. The pacing is sharp, the reasons the characters are filming make sense (they aren’t just carrying a bunch of cameras in the woods), and the urgency of the film remains at a decidedly higher adrenaline level than most movies of this style. Once the spooky stuff starts happening, the film stays at a fever pitch, never delving into terror-killing lulls or languid sequences. Sure, there are some jump scares, but Wingard does a good job at balancing dread with just enough spooky imagery to keep you interested. It’s certainly better than the Paranormal Activity movies.

That lack of originality may ultimately hamper your enjoyment of the film, though, so if you answered yes to question 2, prepare for more of the same. I admit that I haven’t actually seen the original Blair Witch Project; I was a frightful child of a mere ten or eleven years when the film opened in theaters, and despite having ample opportunity to watch it in the meantime, the mystique had been deflated, and there were fresher examples of found footage horror to see. However, my understanding from reading critical reviews of the film is that this new sequel hits almost all of the beats of the original, so much so that it often feels like a retread rather than a new story (not much of a surprise based on the current state of cinema). If you’re seeking a fresh romp with the old devils of New England, this film may not be the one for you.

Ultimately, though, Leif and I enjoyed the film more than we disliked it and recommend it to fans of this particular genre. If you’ve gotten a chance to see it, let me know what you think in the comments. Also, be sure to check out N.K.V.D. on Bandcamp and Facebook if you like industrial black metal or dig Autokrator.

(Photo VIA)(h/t Christian M.)

BONUS Film Review by Leif Bearikson!

I was just old to remember The Blair Witch Project and all of the hysteria surrounding it when it first came out. I was still in elementary school, so all of my friends and I easily fell for the rumors that it was all true, that 3 college students had mysteriously vanished in the woods, perhaps by the supernatural forces of an ancient witch. I didn’t see the movie until a decade later, so my attachment to the franchise was more to the marketing of it and the mystery that had surrounded it. How it could so deeply affect a generation, not only with subtle terror, but by starting the now sigh inducing found footage craze.

I entered Blair Witch with a strange set of expectations. I was more interested in what a talented up and coming horror director (Adam Wingard of You’re Next and The Guest) could do with a franchise like Blair Witch. The original was all subtlety and the power of implication but held within enough of a skeleton for a potential supernatural thriller. This is the route that Wingard has taken with Blair Witch, and it mostly succeeds. 17 years on technology has greatly improved, giving the director all manner of toys to play with such as ear piece cameras, DSLR’s and even a drone, though that proves more short lived gimmick than anything else. All of these things give Wingard any number of angles to play with, so you’re never quite sure from which direction the next spooky occurrence will happen.

Of course, given all of these fancy new tools it would feel odd to recreate the slow burn of the original. Instead Blair Witch is more of a haunted house ride where, starting around the halfway point, things begin escalating rather quickly and intensely. There are a few jump scares, but they feel earned as the director does a good job keeping you guessing and making sure you’re never quite comfortable watching what’s happening. If I feel like for the past 3 minutes something was going to jump out and scare the piss out of me, then when it finally does and I still jump, you get that point.

Overall Blair Witch is a fun watch that has more in common with a spooky rollercoaster than it does with a haunted house. This will be sure to irk some fans of the original, but if your ties to the original aren’t that strong, this sequel could be worth your $5 as one of the more fun horror escapades of recent memory.

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  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Saw the original in the theater when it came out. Haven’t seen it since. The end.

    • I’ve never seen the first one and don’t plan on it. Not my type of horror film.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        It was a cool concept at the time I suppose. But the movie ultimately sucked anyway.

        • I’m a simple slasher type of bro. Give me a monster, a killer, and lots of gore.

        • God

          I still stand by the theory that there was no witch and Heather’s 2 friends murdered her.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Damn, I like that thought. No ghost bullshit, just plain ‘ole murder.

          • God

            There’s some interesting reading and compelling evidence if you look for it. A few videos on YouTube clear it up better than I can if you ever got a free hour or two

          • Waynecro

            This short video sums it up pretty nicely:

          • God

            I love me some film theory. I should subscribe.

          • Waynecro

            I like watching Film Theory YouTube videos more than I like watching actual films.

          • God

            I’m already subscribed to his game theory channel. I forgot he did cinema/TV shit as well. The dude is next level smart for sure.

          • Waynecro

            He has good writers/researchers, including Alex Faciane from Super Beard Bros.

          • Óðinn

            Love film theory. It’s my specialty.

          • Óðinn

            There was no witch, and there was not much of a film either.

          • Waynecro

            I remember the movie boring me, and I remember hating the three people in the movie.

          • Óðinn

            That sounds about right.

  • God

    It was decent enough. Having seen the original and not being a huge fan of the found footage genre due to burnout (thanks a lot paranormal activity 2 – 5, 6, whatever), I found it pretty enjoyable. Won’t hit my list of favorite horror based films this past year but I certainly don’t regret seeing it. If anything, it made me want to go out and rent the Conjuring 2 since I haven’t seen it again since the theatrical release. That is still one of my personal bests this year.

  • I loved every second of the first Blair Witch film and hated every second of this one. *FLUSH*

  • The industry loves found footage flicks because they are mostly inexpensive to make and they can yield high returns. Never saw Blair Witch and that will likely continue. I liked the VHS series and Creep as far as these types of movies go. Paranormal Activity was garbage and should not be watched by anyone.

    • I find these type of movies to be a one time kinda of viewing. I never want to re-watch any of these types of found footage flicks a second time.

      • W.

        Yah, I’ve never wanted to watch one a second time.

      • I think I could watch VHS again, it was like a found footage version of Creepshow for me. The rest are probably one and done.

        • Never seen VHS. Might have to try that one out.

          • VHS and VHS 2 are both pretty dang good.

          • Good to know. Fathers Day ruled by the way. Everyone here should watch it asap.

          • God

            VHS viral is 2 hours of my life I wish I could get back.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I’ve never seen it. Is it that bad?

          • God

            Basically lost any semblance of understandable plot cohesion a few minutes in. It’s like they had 3 little mini episodes that got cut from the last two movies and still wanted to cash out on them. And then just decided to throw some confusing shit at a wall and see what stuck for the story that takes place outside of the incremental mini movie segments

          • They were on Netflix, but I saw them months ago so hopefully they still have them. Definitely worth a watch for a horror fan.

          • W.

            I was looking last night, and they’re still up. At least the first one is.

          • Waynecro

            I’ve seen all the VHS films, and I think they’re mostly pretty cool. Certainly worth watching once on Netflix or something.

  • Good writing, Dubs.

    I remember when I saw Blair Witch, I was 10 years old and it scared me a lot, because I saw it on a bus trip at 3 am, it was terrifying, but watch it all, jajaja.

    • JWEG

      I don’t know what it is about bus trips that make kids think they can watch scary movies (often despite there being an obvious chaperone present who will shut it down immediately when he finds it), but I’ve had that experience too.

      Mine was a middle school band class trip. And their choice of films to attempt to sneak past the band director were Hellraiser and Pet Sematary.

      Unfortunately for them, this was the early 90’s, so the only way to do it was commandeer the VHS deck up front and set it so only the monitor at the back showed it. Which they failed at doing, of course. Busted barely post-credits.

      They were dumb enough to try it again with the other of the two a few hours later though…

      • WTF, man. Hellraiser in a bus trip must be awesome, yet scary if you’re 8 years old, jajajajaja!!!

        • JWEG

          Middle school here, commonly roughly corresponds to age 11-13. I was on the low end of that range.

          So not as bad as being subjected to it as an 8 year old – but too close for comfort, especially as I had led kind of a sheltered childhood.

  • Ayreonaut


  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
  • Kinda out of the loop, not a horror film fan in the least bit. I doubt I have seen more than that Ghost Ship movie from ages ago. Cool to see everyone enjoying this, though.


  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I haven’t seen the new one. The last horror movie I watched was Saw 3D. I enjoyed it much more than a lot of the horror movie sequels.

    • SAW 3D?!


      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I don’t have the 3D version but it’s fun watching Chester Bennington from Linkin Park get killed by a trap.

    • W.

      You haven’t seen a horror movie in six years?

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I actually watched it a year or two ago. I rewatch it sometimes.

  • RustyShackleford

    “Hawthornian romp”

    That is all. Yep.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    $5 for a movie? Try 25€

  • JWEG

    “Self, how do I feel about found footage horror movies?”

    “If you answered yes to question 1…”

    Since it’s not logical to answer yes (or no) to that question I’m assuming you mean I’ll enjoy the film no matter how I feel about FFHM.

    I’ll look it up some time after it finds its way to Netflix.

    • God

      You mean you don’t feel yes about ffhm?

      I didn’t notice that at first haha

      • W.


        • God

          If it’s any consolation, I feel yes about most things.

      • JWEG

        I’ve been feeling kind of maybe lately.

    • W.

      I fixed it, but I hope you screencapped as a testament to my lack of proofreading.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Good reviews! I rather enjoyed Blair Witch, but it was a bit sad to see a decent found footage film but about something we already know about, instead of something cool like Bigfoot or aliens or possessed trees.

  • Waynecro

    I saw the first Blair Witch movie on VHS with a gothic kid I hung out with at the time (the kid who always wore a top hat). He brought two gothic chicks I’d never met before over to my parents’ house so we could all watch the movie. I remember being more interested in all the weird bumps on the bald girl’s head than I was in the movie. I saw the second movie, but I was so drunk when I saw it that I remember nothing about it. I have seen some good and terribly disturbing found-footage movies, though, so I’ll probably watch this one once it’s on Netflix.

  • Óðinn

    Thanks, W.

  • Old Man Doom

    Great article, dudes. Your comparison of the industrial/fascist with the long forgotten primal forests was awesome. Loic’s heavy reliance on fascist elements in his music and imagery has always thrown me off, but I do like reading it as a subversion rather than a dark idolization.

    Also, thank you for the Young Goodman Brown reference. Hawthorne rules.

    • W.

      Yah, from what I’ve read, I don’t think Loic has those political leanings, just uses then in a similar way to other bands with evil imagery to sort of play with irony and imagery.

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    Cool tunes. Couldn’t care less about the movie, fuck the Blair Witch.