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Three film students travel to Maryland to make a student film about a local urban legend... The Blair Witch. The three went into the woods on a two day hike to find the Blair Witch, and never came back. One year later, the students film and video was found in the woods. The footage was compiled and made into a movie. The Blair Witch Project. Written by
Kevin Overstreet <GrndZero23@aol.com>
Is THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT a masterful ghost film or a gimmick to create a multi-media event? It is both. The picture, shot on super 8 video and 16mm film displayed in a squared, documentary-like frame, is quirky, annoying, and spectacularly scary. The scenes at night quite frankly scared the hell out of me. The gimmick that THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is created confusion and wonder over whether or not the footage shot was real life. Now, we all know the truth, but the French term 'cinema verite' is defined by this grisly film.
A guaranteed cult classic, BLAIR WITCH has "Heather, Mike, and Josh" heading off into the allegedly hexed woods of Maryland looking for the Blair Witch or whatever else may exist up in those hills. For most of the film, it is very unclear. The beginning excerpts ingeniously set up the three participants to believe they are a) experiencing the supernatural, b) being played like a fiddle by the suspicious townspeople or c) just completely out of their minds. Its up to the viewer to decide but my money is on option A.
Most filmgoers know that the filmmakers Sanchez and Myrick used their MAC cards and cookie jars to put this phenom together and I commend them. This is a tour-de-force thriller that does indeed seem real. Its all improvised and 'verite' like and the best part about the movie's many chills are based on the basic premise that scares most of us: We are generally frightened by what we cannot see. Many times throughout the film, the screen is completely dark with sudden bursts of screams and grainy scenery. For the sake of the suspense, the film may have been better if we did not know the gimmick. The realism is sometimes smothering.
True, the hand-held camera can make you achy in the head, but the way the actors play off each other is magic and not for the faint of heart. I viewed the film on DVD with someone who was not feeling too well because of the dizzying camera, but somehow the black and white and color and rain blend together and allow Myrick and Sanchez to do what they were attempting to do. Spooking an audience with unseen forces is so effective and I was reminded of Robert Wise's original THE HAUNTING from 1963 with the groans and the cries and the shrieks. A baby's giggle can be heard during one spellbinding scene when the tent the 3 students sleep in takes on a life of its own.
Much has been made about a similar film made in similar fashion by some other young auteurs well before THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was released. I never saw it and if it was as good as this film we would've seen it. Nonetheless, this past summer shocked and surprised me with the amount of good horror pictures around. In the woods, no one can hear you scream either.
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