BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
The found footage film to start them all! The love-it-or-hate-it film that spawned a million imitators of varying quality. Yes, it’s the original BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Even if you don’t want anything to do with this film, you must appreciate the context for when it came out. For those not familiar, this is a ‘found footage style’ movie that purports to show three folks who venture into the woods to explore the mysterious Blair Witch legend. Along the way there are hiccups, paranoia, confusion, getting lost, and ultimately danger. Nothing sinister is really seen on camera; the movie subscribes to the old ‘what’s in your imagination is far more terrifying than what can be seen onscreen.’ The film was marketed that the trio really did disappear and in the year 1999, many people believed this. This was a film that during marketing, childhood photos of the actors were added to the main website, along with other actors posing as police, to add a sense of realism that made people think that maybe we really are watching actual footage. While watching, the film preys on that precious fear of what can happen when going camping in the endless woods: getting lost, hearing strange sounds, and paranoia. I’ve watched the film countless times over the years, long after the ‘secrets’ have been solved, and I gotta say it still holds up for what it is. Yes, people will still mock some of the ‘screaming’ and perceived paranoia the characters go through. But waking up in the middle of the night to strange noises with your tent shaking? Hiking all day just to end up where you began? Waking up to your belongings scattered around your tent? These should all be timeless fears. I don’t think the film would have worked nearly as well if it wasn’t found footage; you wouldn’t be taking the journey first-hand and experiencing the same emotions the trio does if it was made like a standard film. Credit also goes to the directors for the rich lore and backstory they created for the Blair Witch legend. The less is more approach really works in this film’s favor and is ultimately one of the main reasons why I feel it still works today. Shut off the lights and enjoy.
SLASH SCALE: 4/5