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The Blair Witch Project

(1999) rated: R

Director: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez (II)

Starring: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard.

Synopsis: In October of 1994, three student filmmakers dissapeared in the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary on a local legend, the Blair Witch. One year later, their footage was found and compiled into a movie. The Blair Witch Project.

Review: "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." - H.P. Lovecraft

The makers of The Blair Witch Project knew this and used it. The fear generated by this film is not the kind that has you jump out of your seat, but rather, it has you slinking back in your chair in the hopes that no one will notice you.

How often can you truly say you are scared when you watch a movie? Not very often, at least not in my experience. I don't believe I have ever felt the way I did while watching The Blair Witch Project. Every time the sun went down in the movie, my heart started pounding and I got an empty feeling in my gut. I was scared; I wasn't jumping out of my seat, but that doesn't make it less scary.

Most of the complaints about the movie are superficial (black bars on sides of the screen; lack of a soundtrack), but there is one valid objection, and that is the jiggling of the cameras. In my opinion, this doesn't detract from the film (unless of course you get sick). But with a few thousand hours of Doom and other first person shooters under my belt, I was good to go.

The acting is extremely well done, with a wide range of emotions all carried out believably. Heather Donehue's performance (as the most annoying person in the world) was especially convincing and even (maybe) Oscar worthy. The camerawork was suprisingly well done (there are only a few scenes where the jiggling is out of hand) with a few simple but interesting effects. The scenes where they wake up in the middle of the night and turn the camera on (showing only a black screen) force you to concentrate on the sounds you are hearing (and that you cannot see anything at all, let alone what is making the noises). The most unrealistic thing about the film, namely that the filmmakers would actually videotape their misfortunes, is actually not much of a drawback, since the viewer is given a first person point of view and can easily pretend to be one of the doomed campers.

The concept of the film is a brilliant turn on a familiar subject (kids disappearing in the woods) and it is carried off in an incredible style. I am still amazed that someone had the courage to make such a cryptic and ambiguous film that encourages thought and discussion. So light the fire, break out the smores and scare yourself witless.

Did you notice:
• The connections with the piles of rocks?
• Mike's reference to Cal Ripkin breaking the Iron Man record (which occurred around 1994)?
• The significance of Mike's positioning in the last scene?

Michael Williams: I could help you, but I'd rather stand here and record.
Heather Donahue: Witches in days gone by were roasted just like my Vienna sausage.
Michael Williams and Heather Donahue: *THUMP*

• At what point did the campers become doomed? (Were they condemned from the moment they left their car? Or was it when they found the stones? Or the stick figures?)
• Who killed Mike and Heather?

The Blair Witch Project - Official Site: This site is almost an extension of the movie. There is a lot of extra footage and other interesting facts not in the movie.
The Blair Witch Project - IMDB page

The Legend of Boggy Creek
The Last Broadcast

The Store:
The Blair Witch Project (DVD): Also includes the documentary, Curse of the Blair Witch.
The Blair Witch Project (VHS)
Curse of the Blair Witch (VHS)
Blair Witch Collection Twin Pack (VHS)
The Blair Witch Project (book): by Dave Stern
The Blair Witch Project: Josh's Blair Witch Mix (CD)

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