Review: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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One of the greatest horror movies ever made, even if most horror fans happen to hate it!

Written By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez
Directed By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez

Horror doesn’t get any better than The Blair Witch Project, just don’t tell that to any actual horror fans. Since its release The Blair Witch Project has borne the brunt of a backlash from the regular horror community. It has been attacked for any number of reasons, but as the years have gone by I can’t help but feel that this film became a victim of misguided anger. Where The Blair Witch Project went wrong was in its ability to make money and become popular with the common masses. Once that happened it became an instant pariah among the horror community, a status it has retained to this very day, and then eventually the backlash extended to the non-horror loving public that had initially embraced it. That’s very unfortunate because all those people are missing out on a truly great horror movie.

The Blair Witch Project functions on the notion of suspense, the building of tension and that what is implied is scarier than what is seen. These are all horror tenets and can be found in any great horror film, but The Blair Witch Project takes it one step further by removing any visible evil entity, almost all the gore and instead focusing on the human element. This makes The Blair Witch Project a very unique horror film, and a movie that is more in line with any classic Alfred Hitchcock film than a classic horror film. The Blair Witch is never seen, blood is never actually shed, although blood and a body part are seen, but what The Blair Witch Project brings is a palpable sense of fear and entrapment.

The horror in The Blair Witch Project isn’t about the evil man with the machete, or even about the actual Blair Witch, it is about the mundane things that take on a life of their own when the shit hits the fan. The Blair Witch is scary enough, but when you put the characters in the woods and they suffer repeated sensory assaults their very existence becomes their greatest horror. They are too scared to open their eyes and too scared too close their eyes. That is the ultimate horror, to be afraid of your own existence. That is the approach to horror that The Blair Witch Project takes, and it works perfectly. This approach allows for the suspense to be built until the climax comes and the scene is drenched with dread and terror because of the tension present. A truly great horror film works because of its suspense, not because of its gore, The Blair Witch Project is such a horror movie.

The shooting style and starkness of The Blair Witch Project also add to its appeal. It looks and feels amateurish, but that only helps to achieve the documentary feel that the film wants. If this film was polished then it wouldn’t work, but it isn’t polished, it is very raw and very real. The camera bounces around, it cuts abruptly, the characters stammer and stutter, they look away from the camera, in short, the movie comes across as a real effort and that is no small task for any film, large or independent.

The sad fact is that The Blair Witch Project is viewed as a joke in the film community, I fully realize that my glowing praise places me in the minority. I never expect to turn anyone on to a movie with my reviews, but I lowered those expectations to absolute zero with The Blair Witch Project. But, if you are someone who has seen The Blair Witch Project before then I would encourage you to give it another shot without the popular viewpoint in your ear. The Blair Witch Project is certainly worthy of more converts, just remember to stay away from the woods, I know I will.

Rating:

****

Cheers,
Bill

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10 responses to “Review: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

  1. One again Bill, you are spot on.

    At times this film absolutely froze me with fear the way only a handful of films ever have.

  2. I’ve seen this movie, albeit the second time was several years ago, and really disliked it on both occasions. Fear not Bill, I’m not among those who point and laugh at the Blair Witch Project due to any mainstream mindset I have regarding the horror film industry. I have none since I rarely watch horror films at all. Rather, the film left me rather bored, and, to use an age old and abused expression, ‘left me wanting for more.’

    Alas, I cannot agree with your sentiments. Or, to use a hamster trick: I know exactly what you’re saying, but your completely wrong.

  3. Noff – I am it to please.

    Edgar – My heart, it aches, Hamster tactics used against me, I don’t think the old ticker will ever recover.

    That’s cool though, outside of the mainstream sentiment I expressed I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t enjoy TBWP, it’s not a traditional horror movie, nor is its pacing traditional, it’s very much a love it or hate it film.

  4. I thought that The Blair Witch Project was a great movie. What I mean by that is that it was very suspenseful and it really got my heart pumping, considering that I went camping before I saw The Blair Witch Project.
    It was probably my first and most likely my last time because while I was there some very scary shit happend there. One thing that happend there was every time at night at a sertain time I would hear Someone yell “HELP ME” fallowed by a scream. Another is I was hiking with my family and we found an
    abandoned camp site in the direction from where I heard the screaming come from.
    It was a week or two later that I saw The Blair Witch Project and as the movie was playing I was scared so freakin bad My heart keeped racing and thats why I like The Blair Witch Project cause it hit me in my memories of my camping trip.

  5. I must admit that because of hearing all the negative opinoins about the Blair Witch Project I put off seeing it. Big mistake. I recently got a copy and love the psychological horror and authentic like quality. I think that it what really sets apart a beginning horror lover from an expirienced one. The beginners just love gore, sharp instruments, and serial killers. But having seen most horror flicks out there I want more from a film than blood and guts, I need to be scared outta my freakin mind!

  6. I thought this was sio fricken scary, me and my friend were practically raping each other we were so close

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  8. G.O.D. – That’s too bad about the camping, it’s a regular past time for my family.

    Larissa – I don’t get scared, but I think the best horror movies build suspense and tension. That being said, there are plenty of great horror movies that are full of blood and gore. it’s a tight line to walk

    Ridde – Perhaps you were a bit too close then. 🙂

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