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The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Directed by: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez
Starring: Heather Donahue, Micheal C. Williams, Joshua Leonard

Looks like he's saying it with his nose.

The viewing experience of The Blair Witch Project is being stuck in a rapidly rotating washing machine located at the middle of a, creepy - but extremely uninteresting- wilderness. This film is a "project" that deserves the F grade, and a one-way trip to the teacher¡¯s office. The fact that it was shot on a low budget and grossed over 200 times its budget it not something you should admire, rather a trigger for inquisition. With a bit more effort and time it could have been a decent horror film, instead it set an infamous example, resulting in dozens of films shaking the camera like a Spanish instrument, and shouting out loud; "Hey look, we made a found footage horror, isn¡¯t this great?". Simply put, no, but this film needs a more specific breakdown to fully not understand.

Critics hailed this film for being a modern horror masterpiece, using suspicions and false alarms to create chills. But the problem is that imagination, the thing in our head that¡¯s supposed to scare us, is not provoked enough throughout the film. The film is only interested in showing a group of teenagers screaming their lungs out and running frantically, over and over again, until they're tired out as much as we are. There is no time for you to think. There is no time to make you imagine what¡¯s going on, as soon as the ideas starts to flow, you are immediately whisked to another similar scene- the only difference is as the film progresses, it gets more annoying, repetitive, and only studious when it comes to the theory of horror, unfortunately all that knowledge never pays off.

The above being said, no wonder Daniel Myrick and Eduardo (the two directors) can¡¯t produce another hit. The Blair Witch Project became largely successful because of innovative marketing (the only great thing to come out of the film) and it was simply new.

Atmosphere is a big part of horror films, and it can scare audiences without having to introduce a proper villain, or even need to have a straightforward storyline. Alright, say a film has atmosphere, but it isn't scary, or a film is scary and doesn¡¯t have atmosphere. The Blair Witch Project is a rare case where no attempted stylistic aspects succeed. The laws of chance suggest something should have gone right- not here. The absurd plot also defies the laws of chance, as there is no way the series of events shown at the beginning can lead to such atrocious dizziness. If there is something I missed in between, it¡¯s the film¡¯s fault, because it doesn¡¯t clarify basic points even for a found footage horror.

Now I'm reminded of the plot. A review wouldn¡¯t be a review without a plot summary so here it goes. The film begins with subtitles explaining a lost, and now, after a year later, found footage (pun intended) about the journey of three student filmmakers Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard trying to make a documentary of the fabled Blair Witch. Everything seems to go well at first, but then soon they discover a disturbance in the woods, and attempt to escape and provide explanations as well. The end, let's move on.

I normally never expect good characters development from most horror films, and don¡¯t bother me much, as long as it¡¯s tolerable. In the case of Blair Witch Project, it is located 2 steps below the ladder of character caring level (and there are only three characters, the odds are baffling!) from I Know What you did Last Summer, and 1 step above Battlefield Earth. The acting is bad, luckily Heather Donahue got nominated for a Razzie. Maybe we could have given a bit more attention if their faces and actions were fully visible for just a few seconds. Once again, another key basic element of a film, sacrificed for incomprehensible movement. A deal with the devil himself would be wiser.

Eventually, things come to a full circle, things start to reveal itself, and there is a bit entertaining climatic tension at the end, but the final few scenes ruin everything. I could use spoiler tags if I wanted to, but I'm not going to, and it is not because I don't know how to use them or because I want to keep the ending a secret, it is because I don't want it to be part of my review. It is crummy, unexpected, shallow, and the definition of the word ¡°anti-climatic" in a nutshell. Arguably, there couldn't be possible alternative ending to be used as a satisfying finish, but the film set its own course to disasterville, and didn¡¯t turn around in time.

I end this review on hoping the Blair Witch won¡¯t seek revenge on everyone who saw a horrible portrayal of her.