Blair Witch Project
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The Blair Witch Project

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Without a doubt, this is one of the most hyped, most talked about and most profitable movies ever made. The tale is, by now, well known. Three young filmmakers go off into the woods to do a documentary about a local legend, the Blair witch. They interview a few people, drive around a bit and finally, go off into the woods for an overnight filming. Slowly, the three students find that there are more to the woods than meets the eye. Strange things start happening. The effect is so subtle at first that you barely notice when exactly things begin to lose control. It’s like slipping down a hill, you notice a little something loose underfoot, and you don’t bother to notice much. Soon, you are in a headlong fall to the unknown.

The cast is simple, Heather, the young director that just wants to shoot an interesting project for her film class. Josh, a friend of hers and main cameraman, is a guy that just wants to do this assignment and have a little fun in the process. They are met by a third crew member, Mike, who can get some of the digital tape equipment and help run the sound and cameras. The film opens with Heather preparing for the trip. She is excited about making her novel idea into a real film. The three go shopping and, typical of their age, buy a lot of junk food. The movie soon is reminiscent of Sartre’s No Exit, three people that are mutually antagonistic forced to share a single room. The three are soon at each other’s throats. What many complain about is the language used. Heather seems to have a vocabulary somewhat restricted to a favorite four-letter word. This is obvious even before they get into trouble. Unfortunately, this is how many young people are and adds to the frank realism. One idea seems to never occur to the lost threesome, follow the creek to the river. It would be the best way to get out. Instead, the threesome argues, complain and try to hide their concern with filming and idle conversation. There are some moments that are actually quite funny. For example, when the food runs out they sit in the dark tent and talk about the foods they miss and how they need a smoke. The little clues they are not alone are never fully explained but the begin to press upon your mind adding to the growing tension and horror.

The movie has a simple, quite horror. It seems to present the premise that what is unseen behind a familiar tree is more terrifying than any Hollywood special effects creature. They are right. The innate raw feel of the film is what makes it. Nothing seems rehearsed, little planned and the only shots are from DAT and a 16mm camera. The video and audio are intentionally crude and uncut. The film just happens before your eyes and like passing an accident on the highway, you are unable to turn away. Of course the directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, brilliantly planned all this. They do a masterful job of scaring the three actors out of they wits and scaring us in the process. In an interview on TV, Heather Donahue related how things were done. There was an open casting call that wanted people for a small, low budget film where there would be concern for your safety but not your comfort. After Heather got the job her mother was so worried that it was a snuff flick of some sort, she demanded Ids from everybody on the cast and crew and wrote down license numbers before letting her daughter leave. This seemed a fitting beginning for this enterprise.

The video is a mix of black and white and color, depending upon which camera was in use. The sound is often poor but it goes perfectly with the jumping, hand held camera action. This film seems better suited for the home theater since the home movie quality is lost in the movie theater. If you want a very novel and interesting time get this movie.

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