The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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She hadn't quite mastered the art of framing.
She hadn’t quite mastered the art of framing.

Twitter Plot Summary: Three film makers head into the woods to make a documentary about the Blair Witch. They never return…

Genre: Horror/Mystery

Director: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

Key Cast: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C Williams

Five Point Summary:

1. Instantly I can see why people had motion sickness in the cinema…
2. Locals tell the myth of the Blair Witch. Funny bunch.
3. Piles of rocks and no map. Oh my.
4. Lots of screaming and shouting. Get a grip!
5. He’s stood against the wall and she’s all snotty! Oh noes!

The Blair Witch Project has a lot to answer for. Single handedly it spawned larger than expected box office returns by using viral marketing on the internet, and it also kicked off the “found footage” sub-genre, filling audiences with a 50/50 mix of scares and motion sickness. Whilst it has these elements in its favour, is it actually a good film? Well, no, not really.

The story goes that a group of three filmmakers head into the forest to make a documentary about the Blair Witch. They conduct some interviews with local folks to add some colour to proceedings before heading into the forest to seek out any evidence of the witch’s existence. Thankfully the interviews with the locals has given them an idea of what to look out and/or be afraid of. Piles of stones, myths regarding how people used to be bumped off, that sort of thing. So without further ado, they disappear into the woods, never to be seen again. Except you know it’s a film and that everybody’s actually fine. It’s entirely possible that back in the dark recesses of 1999 you could become intertwined with the marketing and, very briefly, believe that it was a true story, but these days? Jog on, sunshine.

There was only one response for being a naughty boy. Into the corner with you!
There was only one response for being a naughty boy. Into the corner with you!

The first two thirds of the footage is taken up by the three film makers preparing for their journey, speaking to locals in and around town, and then heading into the woods/forest to see if they can find anything of interest. Around two thirds of the way through hysteria starts to set in. The trio can’t find their way back to the car and realise they’re walking around in circles. Then they hear things out there in the forest, they wake up to find piles of stones outside their tent, and they also find a number of symbols hanging in trees. Is this a sign that the Blair Witch is after them? A cabal of rednecks playing with their heads? The door to this question is left wide open. They begin to go a little stir crazy and we end up with half a movie of three people screaming and shouting at each other. Entirely believable given the circumstances, but after a while you just want them to shut up and display a little bit of rationality. But no, more shouting and screaming follows. It’s very difficult to sympathise with any of them simply because they quickly lose any redeeming qualities once the futility of their situation becomes apparent.

In terms of building up the mythical Blair Witch, the story at least helps conjure up a very specific image without ever giving anything away. The ending itself is open to a number of interpretations, and it did at least give us a number of semi-iconic images that are perhaps more potent when considered outside of the film rather than when actually watching it. As a viewing experience it mostly consists of tedium, brief flashes of intelligent storytelling and 75% shouting at each other. Nowadays it feels more like a legend in of itself, a film that you only need to have heard of, not necessarily viewed. In some ways the story of The Blair Witch Project as a movie has become a tale akin to that of the Blair Witch within the movie – oft-discussed, rarely seen. If nothing else, it’s an appropriate legacy for the film to have.

Favourite scene: She points the camera up her nose and monologues.

Quote: “I’m afraid to close my eyes, I’m afraid to open them.”

Silly Moment:  All the screaming and shouting. Chill out, folks!

Score: 2.5/5

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