The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Alright, time for one of my absolute favorite horror movies of all time. The Blair Witch Project. It almost seems silly to even post the synopsis, because who DOESN’T know this one? Anyways, if you don’t, then here you go :

Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

This movie changed the way found footage movies were made and marketed. There are a lot of haters of this film, and a lot of “CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST DID IT FIRST”. Well, to those people I say, fuck off. This movie is fantastic, and Cannibal Holocaust is a garbage can of a movie for people who enjoy actual animal cruelty and shitty actors.

Anyways, lets talk Blair Witch. With the over-saturation of found-footage movies these days, it’s understandable that people might be a bit tired of the genre, but for those of you who want to know where it really started, this is the movie. An extremely low budget, not a whole lot of physical scares, and a movie that just sets an atmosphere, and takes you along for the ride with these actors.

blair-witch-project-heather-donahuejpg-cc43367e7ecdc67d

So lets talk actors, this movie does one of the major things that found footage movies need : casts actors that are capable, likeable and interesting enough to root for. You genuinely feel for these people, and the situation you find themselves in. It’s interesting to me to hear people criticize the acting in this movie, particularly from Heather Donahue, as being ‘annoying’ when… in reality they don’t act a whole lot different than anyone else would given the circumstances. Heather is enthusiastic and passionate about shooting this film, she’s headstrong and not willing to admit that things have gone horribly wrong. I really buy the performances, and the movie does feel genuine and real.

Try to remember, when this movie came out, people really and truly thought this was a real piece of found footage. People, in general, aren’t stupid. This movie must have done something to them to maintain the cult status is has today.

The movie has no real special effects to speak of, and besides the clearing with the stick men, and the house at the end, no real ..design or anything. It’s really just these three out in the woods shooting their film. The great thing about the production of this movie is that the reaction from the cast during the frightening encounters they have while camping are genuine.

The cast were all given their scenes for the day, and sent on their way, not knowing that the crew of the film, who ..really were just the two directors and a few others, were out in the woods ready to mess with them at night. The actors didn’t know what would happen, or when, and this produced some pretty real emotional responses from them. On top of that, they really tried to increase the stress level of the actors by getting them genuinely lost. Apparently the scene where they encounter ‘the same log’ was a real reaction from them, as the directors had managed to bring them back with out their realizing.

At least that’s what they say.

In terms of found footage movies, and truly remarkable viral marketing, this movie really is the beginning and a clear example of how to do it right. If you’re young and seeing it for the first time, after watching the Paranormal Activity series, and every other movie like it that’s come since, it will be a different experience, like I mentioned, the movie has no real special effects, or big BOO moments. It’s just a great frightening horror movie, and has been one of my favorites since I saw it.

Just like Black Christmas is the beginning of Slasher movies as we know them now, The Blair Witch Project is what we now see in the found-footage genre most commonly.

Are their better found footage movies? Absolutely, yes. Does this one deserve a fraction of the hate it gets? Not really, in my opinion.

But then, that’s my opinion. Also my opinion, this one goes on my ‘classics’ list.

FINAL GRADE : B

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