Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
Written by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
Starring Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams
and Joshua Leonard
Running time 81 minutes
Released July (30) 1999
Well if you're wondering why so many have been discussing this one again lately... Mystery solved! The Blair Witch Project has just celebrated her 15th anniversary, awwww shes becoming a woman, that's so sweet! Okay yeah seriously though, believe it or not its was 15 years ago almost to the day that this one was finally released on the populace. I think there are few genre fans who were watching back in '99 that don't know this movie. This one was a game changer, and to this day its is one of those films that people either absolutely adore, or just hate. There is no middle ground, its just one extreme or the other, and your about to find out which side of the fence I fall on! Whoo hooo lucky you!
Back in 1999 there was a marketing and media frenzy named The Blair Witch Project. Every where you turned you saw "in October 1994 three film making students disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. A year later, their footage was found..." on tv, on the net, it was on the lips of film fans nation over! Anyone who lived through the experience has to say as far as marketing these guys were damn near genius! In fact check out the missing posters that were being shown as part of the marketing ploy, and boy was it ever effective! I am willing to admit I was one of many thousands searching the internet trying to find out what this one was about, was this for real??? Everyone had an opinion and many believed fully that this truly was FOUND FOOTAGE, oh my!
I like most went in with the highest of hopes. I was sure by the end of the film I'd be somehow changed by the experience, and I was changed, not the way I expected but changed non the less. Once it was over I couldn't go back... but we will get back to that.
The Blair Witch Project is the story of a group of documentarians who go in search of a legend armed only with some knowledge of the stories passed down, some camping gear and their cameras. What happens next is the stuff of cinematic history...
The performances in this one aren't so much acting as they are reacting. The directors sent the group into the woods with limited lines and not a whole lot of direction, instead they left notes at various spots telling them where to go next, with the full intent of messing with the actors minds. They wanted to capture truer emotional reaction, than they felt they would get if they proceeded in a more traditional sense.The actors were genuinely caught off by surprise in moments, but you will have to see if that works for you or not. In my opinion it was a huge flop of a film. Yes it grossed a butt load of money, so it was a success financially but in terms of entertainment value, it was just awful. Which is a huge statement for someone like me who can find redeeming qualities in just about any horror film!
Many things just didn't work for in this one. The lighting was a constant issue through out making for very dark scenes that were near impossible to make (sometimes entirely meant, I get that). The sound was another issue, it basically varied between whisper and blood curdling scream, which did nothing but annoy me (its a personal peeve of mine in movies, pick a volume level already ugh!). The story itself is extremely slow, with very little in the way of action, and the few moments here and there become just annoying due to Heather Donahues performance. She starts out the film as a normal, person and somewhere along the lines becomes this sniveling, whining embodiment of every thing annoying about a self important spoiled brat, leaving absolutely no room for any kind of empathy for her or her situation. In fact I really just wanted her to die from about 35 minutes in or so. I was basically praying for her death, it was that bad! In fact just thinking about it I am feeling that sensation of fingernails on the chalkboard, ughhhhhh (shivers). Her character was so frustrating its hard to even notice the other actors past the disdain for all that is her. (I actually feel a little bad for the poor girl, many felt the way I did and I have no doubt she has received a lot of grief over the years since regarding the role.) All of that leads back to problems with the direction given and the minimal script written, which of course fall squarely on the shoulders of the writers/directors on this one.
And finally the ending... its a mixed bag on that part for me. One on hand I think its a smart ending that showed some courage, on the part of the directors, but as a viewer it left me feeling very flat. I wanted something more defined I guess you could say. The Blair Witch Project is a film that just didn't deliver on any level for me personally. Which brings me back to how it changed me. The build up for this film was so huge and so successful, that the lack of any sort of enjoyment it brought me left me feeling jaded, and cynical. It took away some of the innocence in my naivety. I felt duped and angry, and would never look at "found footage" films with the same sort of hope or expectation. I still wonder what so many others saw that I missed, because believe me for as much as I dislike it, there are plenty who ADORE it.
The film does have a couple of creepy moments scattered about, just not enough for me. The Forest becomes almost a fourth character and lends a sense of foreboding especially in the night time scenes. Also some of the "problems" I have with this one make sense when you consider it is supposed to be found footage. Things like shaky cam, volume, lighting should to an extent be an issue in a found footage film, I just felt they should have used a bit more moderation. Whether I liked it or not this one changed the industry, showing the great potential low budget films have for huge profit margins. The film also used the internet in a way it hadnt been before in terms of movie marketing, and although it wasn't truly the first found footage film, it is definitely the one that everyone knows and gives credit to too in the genre since, all of that makes this a film that should be watched. It has a historic value that for good or bad will never be changed.
In writing this I sit here trying to figured out what it would be like to go into the film, fresh today, with out all the build up that we had back in the day. Would i see it differently had it not been built up to such gigantic proportions? I honestly don't know, but I would love to hear from some of you who have recently just seen this one for the first time, with out all the hype and hoopla, just another title like so many others... What are everyone thoughts on this one??