"The Blair Witch Project" (1999)

Rating: R:15
Genre: Horror
Directed By: Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick
Written By: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez
Released: July 30th, 1999
Runtime: 84 minutes
Studio: Artisan Pictures

This is the story of three young people who set out on a quest to make a documentary about the “legend” of the Blair Witch, and end up going deep into the woods where scary things begin to happen...

It certainly has a very creepy background to the story, and relies on the audiences being pulled into the superstition surrounding this, in order for them to feel fear watching what happens or what is implied to be happening later in the film.

The only introduction we have to the film is the simple print at the beginning stating what has happened. We already know that these three people are somehow going to meet their doom and disappear...the question is how. It dives straight into it, seen as it’s made up purely in a home-video style, which gives it a more realistic kick. They interview people around the area and we are given information gradually to build up the background of this thing which is to be feared throughout the movie. Once in the wood, strange things begin to happen, some coinciding with what some of the people in the area foretold.

The characters were interesting enough. We were given a real sense of them as people and their own specific traits and slants as the film progressed. With it being Heather’s project, she seemed to be thing ring leader and took the most charge of the situation, was very insistent and determined to acquire what she wanted...While the boys were quicker to abandon ship and turn all their focus on getting home, rather than sticking to the project. The majority of the arguments originated from Heather insisting that the camera remain on. There were, as I say, a bit too much arguing and the plot was a little meandering as not much actually happens in front of our eyes, but rather, is simply implied.

As I say, the fact that it’s filmed in a ‘home-video’ style, adds loads to how realistic it will feel. They literally show you this “footage” exactly “as it was found” and nothing more. This probably adds far more to the tension. Again, this is a unique feature and makes it stand out from other films. It was interesting to see how they would get around needing to have the camera on all the time, because obviously one isn’t as flexible to switch from shot to shot as seamlessly. You’re very confined, for example, one of the characters has to be holding the camera at all times, or else the camera can be on but lying on the ground or something and unable to be moved. The fact that the characters brought more than one camera with them gave it that bit more flexibility.

It’s quite a short film; around 78 minutes or so, which is a nice length, although I felt like it ended very abruptly....That being said, perhaps this was the intention as it allows the audiences’ imaginations to fly. What’s more, I was expecting a brief explanation at the end, similar to that which appeared at the beginning, but no, it just went straight into the credits which made it feel more ominous. The fact that we never actually see what has been terrorising these three people is very effective and again, allows the audiences’ imaginations to go to however dark a place they may go. This technique in many ways is more powerful than simply showing what happens in an obvious way. It creates more mystery, more threat. Certainly, on a psychological level this film is executed very, very well. Fear of the unknown is key it would seem.

I was really hoping to get sucked into this as the manner in which it was filmed was promising, but even despite watching it in the dark I wasn’t pulled in enough. I felt a lot of the film was spent with them arguing, which is understandable considering they’re lost in the woods, but some of the shouting got a bit tedious as opposed to adding to the tension. I think if you have a fairly good idea of the actual story behind the Blair Witch before watching it, it would add more to the film. I watched it, of course, without really knowing anything about it until afterwards, and I think I would have found it scarier had I known before pressing play! But definitely, there something unique about this film and I would recommend you check it out!