The Blair Witch Project
Director: Eduardo Sanchez
Written by: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez
Weapon of Choice: Video Camera
Other movies in this series:
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Rish Outfield's reviews
The second-most hyped movie of 1999 (since this one didn't have 22 years of anticipation behind it) was an unimaginably huge box office success, and it was well worth seeing. It was original, well-done, and starkly realistic (though, for the life of me, I don't know why people in the situation they were in would keep filming everything), and, I believe, got less skulls than anything else on our page. [editors note: At the time this was written, Horror of Dracula and Psycho (1960) had the fewest skulls with 4 each.]
Bastard that I can be, tyranist and I work as a team in creating this horror site. We planned and developed it together, and 95% of the films reviewed here we have watched together. This, unfortunately, was one of the other five percent.
I saw this movie months after the hype (which started at the Sundance Film Festival) began, so I had high hopes and no misconceptions. There were many, however, who bought into the campaign and believed this was all real, and that the actors were not actors at all. I think that would have made it much scarier, such as the infamous "Faces of Death" videos, which only hold appeal if one buys that they are 'real.'
The premise, as you know, is that three young filmmakers go into the forest to shoot a documentary about a local legend, and they never return. Years later, the footage they shot is found and edited into what you're about to see. What a great idea for a movie. And what an even greater marketing campaign. It sure paid off, as this is easily the biggest money-making independent film ever. By the time this sees print, Blair Witch will have outgrossed Scream, and will be on its way to being the highest-grossing horror film ever. I'm sure the people who call it that will ignore Jaws and Jurassic Park as horror films, though.
This is a movie that demands conversation afterwards. Some people who saw it claimed it was the scariest film since The Exorcist. A lot of others were neither very scared nor understood the ending. There were a lot of varied explanations for the ending, and though it makes for interesting discussion, was all the confusion really necessary?
Though I did enjoy it, there were moments that I would have changed had I made the film (to make it scarier for me). The first few nights, when the git was showing down, it was damn scary. Unfortunately, I kept expecting SOMETHING to be shown, some kind of glimpse of just what it was out there, or a hint as to who was really calling. I would've enjoyed hearing the witch (if that's what it was), a child, or the murderer's ghost (or all of the above), since they continually raised the stakes each night (made things scarier than the night before, that is), and never really revealed anything. I agree with those who say that leaving things to the imagination is scarier than showing, but it only goes so far, and then you say, "Okay, joke's over, show the shark, and what the hell's in the briefcase?"
I did like the movie, and I was scared, just not as much as I expected to be (I planned on chanting "it's only a movie, it's only a movie" to myself ad nauseam, but didn't really have to). The acting was just wonderful, the filmmaking believable, and the ending legitimately disturbing. In that final moment, I gasped when I realized why Mike was standing in the corner, but those around me were either not paying any attention earlier, or it hadn't been emphasized enough.
The only thing that really bothered me was (and I didn't see anyone bring this up) that there wasn't the kind of closure I wanted. I had heard all about how they found the footage and how it was edited together, and I expected some sort of disclaimer at the end, explaining where the cameras were found, by whom, and if any physical evidence was ever uncovered. Just a short, "To this date, none of the three young people, have been seen again." I have heard that you can find all this out on the website or TV specials, but that's not the same as at the end of the movie.
Best Scare: The first night, initially, when you only hear sounds. But that last moment is the one that stays with you.
I'd Recommend It To: Face it, if you wanted to see it, you would have by now. My mother didn't like it, though.
P.S. I don't think I would have gone so far as to have posted a "If you have any information concerning the whereabouts of these three yutes, please call 1-800-MNKYLUV"-type message at the very end, but it's an idea.
The tyranist's thoughts
Okay, so more than two months after the initial wide release (and after Rish) I finally saw this movie. I was disappointed. Maybe the fact that I saw it at a Thursday matinee and there were only half a dozen people in the theatre had something to do with it. Maybe my loathing for any kind of activity in the woods affected my ability to connect to the characters and thereby empathize with their terror. Maybe I just wish that they had shown something. I don't know, but for whatever reason, I didn't connect with this movie and it didn't scare me even a little. Kind of disappointing. At least, I could kind of understand why people were frightened by it.
Now, undoubtedly, you've read some of my reviews of hyper-realistic film and you know that usually they disturb me and I rank them pretty highly even if I do like them. This is an exception. Even the heightened reality didn't get me like it usually does. There just wasn't anything there for me. I went in pretty much knowing the story (how could I not with three months of hype in the bag) and being prepared for something genuinely creepy. Frankly, I didn't even find the noises in the woods scary. Perhaps, the day has passed for this little independent film already.
Total Skulls: 6
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|What the hell?|
|x years ago . . .|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood hits camera|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|