Blair Witch Project

Rating:

I Just Never Got What the Big Deal Was

Main Cast: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael Williams

Director: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez

I have a confession. I’ve never cared for this movie. It’s not that I hate it or don’t like it, I just never saw what the big deal was. It’s not the least bit scary and the ending is bullshit. Sure, it spawned the huge found footage boom, and the makers of the movie, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, created an interesting viral campaign around the movie, but once you know the backstory is all made up, it ruins any re-watchability this movie might have had. It’s one thing to watch a regular movie and experience the terror along with the characters, but to watch a trio of actors who are, basically, playing themselves, and to know everything that happens to them is planted by the directors and the crew … I don’t know, it’s just a different experience. And it’s not scary.

The Blair Witch Project came on like a tsunami back in 1999, taking moviegoers by storm and pretty much changing the way we think of movies and story. Formed around the idea of three film students making a documentary surrounding a local witch legend, The Blair Witch Project follows Heather, Josh, and Mike as they interview the locals, then trek off into the woods themselves in search of historical sights connected to the legend of the Blair Witch, Elly Kedward.

After finding what they came for and getting it on camera, the trio head back, but get lost in the woods. Tensions between them mount, but that’s the least of their worries as, late at night they’re constantly woken by crashing sounds in the woods. Something is out there in the dark, following them, and it’s getting closer every night they’re lost out there.

See, the idea for the Blair Witch movie is a good one. And I do think it succeeds as a horror movie. I mean, I can see WHY people would be freaked out by it. I just never was, personally. And, unfortunately, something like that can diminish the enjoyment of a movie like this.

Not much can be said of the acting since, according to everything I’ve read, there was very little of that going on. While the actors were being led around the woods by the filmmakers, their reactions to everything happening to them were genuine, so how can you praise how terrified they seemed to be acting if they were actually terrified?

I just can’t make myself be scared by this movie. And I’ve tried. I’ve seen it several times, in several different circumstances, with people, alone, with the lights on, with the lights out, on TV, on my laptop, and no matter what, it’s just not scary.

I do like the mythology surrounding the witch and her legend. I think Myrick and Sanchez have created a wonderful fictional world here, with endless possibilities for branching out and telling more stories. I think the marketing campaign around the film’s release was genius and helped in making this one of the most successful independent movies ever made. Given the mythology they’ve made up here, I would gladly watch an entire franchise built from this movie, just like I did every year with the Saw or Paranormal Activity movies. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in this movie and what it does. It just wasn’t scary.

For me, this was nothing more than an exercise, in writing, in filmmaking, in acting. It was an exercise that worked and paid off BIG, but an exercise nonetheless. I definitely recommend seeing it because I think the history of the movie itself can be very inspirational to creatives who are in the mood to do something new. Just don’t go into it expecting to be scared, because you’ll probably wind up just as disappointed as I was the first time I saw it. And unfortunately, with a movie like this, one chance to elicit scares is about all you get because every watch after that, the illusion is destroyed.

For me, panned as it was by everyone else, I enjoyed the sequel a lot more.

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