TGIF! The pup and I are back after a rough week with a review of a modern classic–a classic piece of WTH? Here’s hoping there are more folks out there with common sense than spastic colons. 😉
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Cast: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams
July of last year marked the tenth anniversary of a movie that blew records out of the water, nauseated viewers with erratic camera work, and screwed with many a moviegoers’ head. You have to give Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, the writers and directors of The Blair Witch Project, an A+ in the hook department.
The Blair Witch Project follows the fictional disappearance of three college students Heather Donahue, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard (to give the story more authenticity the characters share the same names as the actors—confused yet?). Heather is putting together a documentary as a part of her thesis on the infamous Blair Witch, a rural legend in nearby Burkittsville, a small Maryland town in the Black Hills. Along for the ride are Joshua and Michael two film students volunteering their time and the university equipment to Heather’s thesis project, unfortunately, what starts out as a weekend trip into the woods ends with them all disappearing without a trace.
The entirety of the film is recorded via hand held video in both color and black & white by the students who head out on their adventure to begin collecting tales of the Blair Witch. The main tale they discover is that of a serial killer in the 1940’s who murdered a number of children and claimed the Blair Witch made him do it. Nothing new here being as there have been numerous tales told about serial killers who blame, ghosts and demons for their own actions.
The following day, they continue their exploration of the town and the outer edges of the woods; collecting the original tale of the witch and the mysterious disappearance/reappearance of a young girl, Robin, in the mid-1800’s. Parking their cars, they load up their gear and head out to Coffin Rock where another of many bloody legends linked to the Blair Witch supposedly occurred. Their first night in the woods passes with no problems. At this point, nothing odd has happened and to be honest I was bored out of my mind. Not even a prick of my hackles.
On their second day in the woods, the three begin arguing with one another when they don’t arrive at a supposed cemetery that Heather is leading them to through the woods. What do they discover? A clearing filled with piles of stones. Okay, now my mind is boggling. What the hell is scary about this? Later, after dark, they hear noises in the woods. OMG! Noises in the woods—hang on to your bloomers folks.
Definitely lost in the woods now the arguing intensifies between Heather and Michael. Unable to return to the car before sundown they agree to camp one more night. The noises sound like something moving through the trees. Yeah, there’s no explanation for movement in the woods in the middle of the night. (Can you sense my sarcasm?) The following morning more of the mysterious rock piles appear surrounding their tent. Tempers continue to flair between all three of the intrepid filmmakers especially when Michael tells them he threw their map away the day before. Just as twilight approaches, they discover another clearing where the iconic stick figures of varying sizes dangle from the trees. As night encroaches, they freak out as more sounds begin to close in some that appear to be weeping and/or screaming.
I have to be honest I was not impressed with the Blair Witch. If anything, The Blair Witch Project focused on scaring the bejesus out of people who never stepped foot in the woods. (Much like Deliverance did in the 1970’s) Being a country girl who spent a good deal of my childhood running through the woods, exploring caves, and abandoned houses nothing came off as particularly scary. Panic, jerky camera movements, torn up backpacks, and eventually a missing comrade have the others on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I would be more likely to believe at this point that what the three are experiencing is a mass induced paranoia and audio hallucinations if not for the bundle filled with teeth and blood. Of course, that could be explained by Josh (who goes missing) going coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs first.
The closest to creepy is the final scene of the movie that leaves us with more questions than answers. I won’t spoil the scene though if you happen to be one of the few people who never saw this movie. The most amazing thing that The Blair Witch Project managed to do was convince thousands of people that it was REAL. Not since Orson Wells’ 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds has a piece of entertainment caused people to lose their common sense. Of course, Orson did it so well people were committing suicide. We can look at that as a sign of Wells’ genius or at the fact that humanity has gotten smarter. I’d prefer thinking we’ve gotten smarter, but I doubt it.
So what’s my final opinion? Myrick and Sánchez are two of the best snake oil salesmen to slither into Hollywood in ages. The fact that a film made them both millionaires that had no real script, no well-known actors, and filmed on a miniscule budget, is quite the feat. They held the title for ten years until Paranormal Activity appeared out of left field in 2009. Let’s just say that hand held video does not an excellent horror movie make. Not even if Steven Spielberg backs you, the man is good, but he’s a mouse when it comes to knowing what’s scary, but that one is for another day. *snorts & rolls eyes*
Final Rating: 1/5 Fox Pups
5 Fox Pups – Must See/Can’t Miss
4 Fox Pups – Excellent
3 Fox Pups – Good
2 Fox Pups – Passable
1 Fox Pups – Skip It