Friday, October 24, 2008
The Blair Witch Project Review
When I was younger I would easily get scared at horror movies. The Blair Witch Project scared me the first time, but once it was out on video and dvd, it really lacked the punch that it had when I first saw it. I revisited the movie, just because I thought there was some value to it still, and you know what? It still holds up very well, although the “Book of Shadows” is a horrible encounter with horror sequels. The film was initially released in 1999 and it went on to gross $248,639,099 dollars and was made on a budget of 22,000. That’s huge! I was 16 when I first saw this film.
The movie follows a group of college students trying to film a documentary about the “Blair Witch” who haunts the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland. They are assumed dead as no one finds their bodies, but a year after they go missing, someone finds their footage and we get treated to seeing it.
Here is a trailer for The Blair Witch Project:
The movie is filmed with a mix of handheld cameras. This is before everyone wet themselves while watching the horrible film “Cloverfield” earlier this year, and before we started seeing this style of first person shooting frolic through Hollywood movies. The shots are really grainy, and they are not too unlike that horrible film I reviewed called Ax’Em. That’s not a compliment, as I found it terribly odd that I was paying full price to see a horrible and grainy looking film.
The movie was marketed as a true story, and word caught on fast that this was in fact a real documentary and that it was the scariest thing they had ever seen. The first time I saw this I was a big fan of horror and I was easily scared with jump scenes, however, at home I had amassed a HUGE vhs horror collection the likes that you’ve probably never seen before. I was an odd kid, I’ll tell you that much. Of course we now look back and laugh at the stupidity of these claims, however this was before the internet took every single person by storm, as broadband was still not as rampant as it is today. The marketing aside this movie wasn’t really a true story at all and those that still believe it today are complete morons.
The movie goes through various slow moving scenarios, and the climax really gets to you. We’re surrounded by darkness at one point, and then right when you think things are going to really get good, something bad happens, the cameras get shut down and the credits start to roll.
Why is The Blair Witch Project Scary?
The film is scary on a very simple level; fear of the supernatural. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, people are often startled easily with darkness and noises. In fact, I have yet to meet a single person in the world that isn’t scared when in the dark in a strange place with odd noises occurring. We are all scared of darkness combined with noises and this film has plenty of that towards the end. This film also scares us on an emotional level, because the majority of people that saw this film were not country people. We are urban dwellers, living in the city and far away from the forests that will eat us alive if we allow them to. The despair and desperation of people lost in the woods is nothing new, as we have seen it before. In fact, a lot of movies scare us because people are lost somewhere, even the Ocean (Open Water) or a cave (The Cave, The Descent, The Ruins). Being lost scares a lot of people and the main antagonist of this film has to be that the students are lost and don’t know how to get back to civilization, which only complicates the plot further down the line.
The Blair Witch Project is a scary film, but only if you allow yourself the immersion of believing that this is real. Back in 1999 when someone said a film was based on a true story, they were usually talking about adaptation and creative liberties. However, this film combined shaky, grainy, documentary style footage with a loose story that made people really believe. That’s the scary part as well, the fact that we all believed that these things were real, and not just fabricated for movie’s sake.
Now that we are all veterans of horror, and smart fans, always crawling the internet, The Blair Witch Project and The Blair Witch: Book of Shadows, pales in comparison to other films like “The Exorcist” or “The Amityville Horror” in terms of “based true events” marketing. However, at a time when shaking the camera wasn’t a part of production values, this film scared the crap out of a lot of horror movie goers. It holds up well, but only if you go at it with the proper mindset, otherwise you’re going to be bored at the snail pace that you are revealed the footage. I recommend The Blair Witch Project at least once more, and the sequel I would say just avoid. However, you’re not going to be missing out on much if you don’t watch this one again, as I doubt the horror movie world will return to such a vapid sense of instability. It did make for a good time back in 1999, with all the y2k scares going on, as if it were 2008 and the media was scaring us thanks to the economy….but it’s ok, people say Obama will save us. I disagree, but who cares. The Blair Witch Project is not showing up on any top 10 lists anytime soon, but it was once one of the scariest pieces of film making and marketing ever created. But to put it in proper perspective, Limp Bizkit was also one of the top selling rock bands at one point.
As a Bonus, I'll just say this about Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows: It had a great soundtrack. Yep, Blair Witch 2 sucked, but the Soundtrack was awesome. The Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows Soundtrack featured music from: P.O.D,Rob Zombie, Godhead, System of a Down, Marilyn Manson, Slaves on Dope, Death in Vegas, Project 86, At The Drive In, Elastica, Queens of the Stone Age, and dare I say....Nickelback. The movie is horrendous, but the soundtrack is a winner!
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