← Back to Reviews

The Blair Witch Project

(1999, Myrick & Sánchez)

"You gonna write us a happy ending, Heather?"

The Blair Witch Project follows three students (Heather, Joshua, and Michael) that ventured into the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland to record a documentary on the Blair Witch and ended up disappearing. Shot in the style of "found footage", the film presents what they recorded as if it was found a year later, in a much decidedly *not* happy ending.

I was already an avid film fan back in 1999, so I remember all the hoopla around the release of this film pretty well. I remember seeing it in theaters, and I still think I'm the only one that walked away really pleased with the film that night. I don't think a lot of people were prepared for what they were going to see, but this is a film that the more I rewatch, the more I appreciate, admire, and love.

As a matter of fact, I rewatched it for the umpteenth time this October and it never fails to feel creepy, eerie, and ultimately unsettling. It's been a while now, but I don't think I ever believed the "true story" marketing. However, as someone who had spent a good amount of my pre-teen/teenage years camping in the woods with friends, the film really has a way to get to you with how scary that experience might be.

But beyond the parts in the woods, I think the film does a great job setting everything up in the first act. I think the "interviews" with the townspeople are really effective and do a great job at putting you on edge. There are some fortuitous things, like the little child covering the mother's mouth when she starts to talk about the Blair Witch. I also seem to recall that the filmmakers didn't want the Mary Brown (Patricia DeCou) interview to be so grainy, and yet, I think that adds a whole different level to that moment.

I might also be in the minority, but I think the three "students" do a great job with their parts; moreover when you consider they were mostly inexperienced actors that the filmmakers just dropped into the woods and told them to improvise. With its 81 minutes, $200K package, The Blair Witch Project is many things: it is innovative and ground-breaking, a product of its time, but also unique and timeless, scary and ominous, with no happy ending.