The Blair Witch Project Reviews
there were literally only two scenes of something "scary" actually happening. the first takes place about an hour into the movie, and the second with 5 minutes left. i can't believe i wasted an hour and twenty minutes for those two useless scenes. and they never actually show anything. no joke. nothing. (2 viewings)
Three students are making a documentary on an old legend, the Blair Witch. The legend says that witches used to slaughter kids in a forest near a village. They decide to go venture deep in the forest but several days past and troubles begin.
The Blair witch is incredible in a sense that it nearly shows nothing. The young people who are shooting their documentary are hearing noises; screeching, witchcrafts artefacts, but they never get anything supernatural on cam. The build-up of this movie is amazing: the characters are slowly losing their minds and hope; they start to panic every second on something they are not even seeing! And that is the beauty of this movie; it is your childhood fears, the ones your parents told you not to worry about because they aren't even true. But they are real and still you cannot see them but you know they are nearby.
Honestly stunning, even though the movie is pretty slow-paced and there is not much story told, it is really a pleasure to watch, I recommend you watch it all alone of course.
Nearly a decade before "Paranormal Activity", "The Blair Witch Project" happened and was the first ( I have intentionally excluded Cannibal Holocaust 1980 because of its genre) to experiment with the found footage Psychological horror genre which later gained such remarkable mainstream success that it spawned seven installments of Paranormal Activity, [REC] and many others. The Blair Witch Project does so less in 105 minutes yet in its own way forces us to cogitate over the definition of horror and to experience horror. The film is an exploitation of the most fearsome element of the genre- the very thought of being haunted by an obscure supernatural entity whom you can neither see nor confront.
The film is about three aspiring documentarians who wander off into the woods with the hopes of finding some reminiscence of the Blair Witch legend. Long before the plot unfolds itself, we already know of their fate - thanks to the opening introduction of the movie which informs us of their disappearance and implies that they are probably dead. With "What happened to them?" out of the line that leaves us with "How it happened?" Now, a usual horror movie would go about showing us the exploits of the witch, gruesome murder of protagonists and eerie sound effects from the third-person perspective. This is where the film deviates from the aforementioned mainstream "tested and approved "technique and adopts an unconventional (at the time) manner of storytelling. Found Footage enables the film to engage us audiences to experience fear and dread of being haunted from first-person perspective for I felt as if I was the fourth crew member holding the camera and filming the documentary. And one of the elements in the film which I found to be remarkable is that the violence or melancholia inflicted by the witch in the past is never actually shown in the movie but rather presented as the legend through use of manufactured newspaper articles, newsreels, television news reports, and staged interviews. This creative way of narration successfully manages to form an image of the witch in the mind of the viewer by replacing the need to actually show the witch.
The plot is fairly simple and straight forward without any twists and turns. It has all the ingredients of different varieties of characters usually found in a typical horror movie - doomed protagonists, a crazy legend-believer who has been personally traumatized by the supernatural entity, the naysayers and the forbidding one who would ask to leave the ghost alone. And I couldn't, to this day, forget that the crazy legend-believer in this film is a special one for she is a self-proclaimed ballerina, a historian writing on American history and also a scientist at department of energy. And I used to think that I was the ultimate all-rounder! It doesn't really take much time for audiences to realize that the movie isn't really about the witch but rather it is a study of characters. Among the three principal characters, the woman (Heather) is the most memorable one and not in a very good way. One may find Heather as obnoxious and over smart-woman who would not stop arguing over camera business and who at times would not mind some whiskey and toke. The manner of shift in characters' persona in face of dismay is depicted in a constructive way allowing the film to use it as a effective tool for provoking and upsetting the audience.
Incorporating the religious scriptures in the script has always been the most reliable method of providing the authenticity or the background to support the occurrence of horror. The Blair Witch Project brilliantly uses the biblical story of Jacob from Genesis 31:39 wherein he piles up stones between himself and Laban to signify the separation of territories. Same pile of stones are frequently shown in the film which filmmakers must have intended to depict the territory of the witch and one might have easily noticed that all the havoc started after one of these piles were stepped upon by the cameraman. The film has no music score throughout its length which is why I guess Heather's persona was designed as talkative and annoying to balance out the awkward silence that, otherwise, would have prevailed. It might amuse you if I said that the movie started with the voice of Heather and ended with her scream.
I must not tell the famous and much debated ending. It tries to re-enact the witch-legend.
The best thing that can be said about the film, I think, is that it works. Myrick and Sanchez have taken up a very simple concept and made it believable, right up to the end. In this sense, it even outdoes Paranormal Activity.
Instead of giving a usually predictable horror movie element, it more relies on the realism approach that binds with the audience's imagination --- that gives out a conclusion to a certain situation, hence, would potentially adds up more tension build-ups to the story. The Blair Witch Project is not for everyone due to its unorthodox found footage aesthetics, yet, also not for the faint of hearts!