The movie that made first person horror movies what they are today..
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Directed By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez (Believers, Seventh Moon)
At the end of last year and early this year a viral marketing campaign for a move called “Cloverfield” got the net buzzing. Yours truly was one of the many caught up in all the hype searching and digging through site after site for clues as to just what that movie was about. However it reminded me of another time many years ago when another movie got people on the hype train trying to figure out just what the hell.
In 1999 I remember watching the television when a very odd movie tailor came on that caught my eye. That movie tailor was for “The Blair Witch Project”. I wasn’t the only one who this T.V. spot caught the eye of. It was all the talk at school, even my family was talking amongst themselves about this soon to be released movie. And for the most part, many many more were talking about it and waiting this film that was coming to a theater near you on July 30th of that year.
Using a very smart marketing ploy and one that was rather innovative for it’s time, (for those not “in the know” of other films similar) “The Blair Witch” project wasn’t just a movie the people who made it wanted you to see. They wanted you to believe that what you were seeing was real and not just some movie. Even the Sci-Fi Channel got in on the fun airing a fake documentary entitled “Curse of the Blair Witch” (which is on the Special Edition version of the DVD by the way) about the whole thing that was about to hit theaters. We were to believe that this footage that they put together was legitimately the only thing left remaining after our three doomed wanna-be film makers made their ill advised trip into the woods looking for a real life Witch hunt.
To add to that, the actors not only was taking part in a movie that was promoted as being real, they even used their real names in the thing. You could even find missing persons posters with their faces right on them outside of some showings of the flick. Even if you don’t like the movie you have to admire the way they used T.V., Internet, and other activity to promote it. A promotion that just like “Cloverfield”, almost ten year later your humble reviewer shall remember for years to come.
When you get to the actual movie it’s self you run into a mix bag of opinions. The film was shot with a mixture of cameras that gave it the “it’s real” feel. Much of the film looks a lot like what you yourself would get if you took your hand held video camera out and filmed stuff with it. While this was one of the appeals of the film that gave it the “this is soo not made up” feel the directors were going for, it also was one of the main turn offs of some of the movie goers. Which how they expected “Kubrick” like film shots in something that was not only suppose to be legit, but filmed with a hand held camera is beyond me.
My main gripe with this film has never been the look or style of it. I happen to really dig that part of it. My main problem with this whole thing is I really don’t like the characters. I mean just take a look at our three “leads” here.
We have Heather, who for lack of a better word is an over controlling bitch throughout most the film. It’s only when shes faced with the possibility that she might not make it that she even gets half way bearable (and delivers one of the most memorable scenes in film history).
We have Josh, who may be the most likable person in the whole thing, only in this case that is not saying much by any means.
Then we have my pick for the worst character in this film, Mike. Mike gives off the vibe that he is a bit of a cry baby. You might compare him to the kid during recess that pouts and tosses a hissy fit over not getting to be team captain during the kickball game.
To sum it all up, I wasn’t worried about the well being of any of these people. Actually throughout all the weird sounds coming from the woods, and hard to see night shots, I was rooting for the Witch to hurry the hell up and rid me of having to watch these assholes.
Now I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but take my word for it when I tell you that every situation our three friends here find themselves in could have been avoided had they not all been tools. If nothing else, if you watch this movie and it doesn’t scare you, let it be your guide to avoid being stupid.
While I don’t like the charterers in “The Blair Witch Project”, I do like the movie. I also am I sucker for the first person style that this movie is known for, and in some ways known as being innovative for. While there were many movies that would copy this style after this movie, I don’t want to go without mentioning movies like “Cannibal Holocaust” and “The Last Broadcast” (Which the Directors did see right before they got the idea for this movie “wink wink”) that are well worth your time as well.
One key thing to keep in mind while seeking out viewing of this thing is that the DVD releases for it are not in a wide screen format. The footage is still in the form it was intended to be in, simulating what it would look like if you were watching an old VHS tape with all this craziness on it. However, if you just GOTTA have your wide screen some movie channels actually show this in a wide screen format when airing it, and it actually looks a lot more crisp and cleaner that way than it does on the DVD (Which I’m sure is by design).
So in closing, your entertainment level on this may vary depending on if you understand what they are going for with it or not. I guess you could say a movie like this is an acquired taste so to speak. However, even if you are left scratching your head with a “huh?” look on your face once you see the final scene, I think this one is one you will always remember.
The Rating: 6.5/10