Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Film Review - The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Fig.1 The Blair Witch Project (1999) Movie Poster

Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick's The Blair Witch Project (1999) is a chilling pioneer for found footage films. It would be a fair argument that the film is one of the main reasons behind the growth and success in independent films. Unlike the great Horror films, there is no "monster" to be seen, but we sure do believe that there is one. Christy Lemire talks about the film's difference to other horror films in her review by saying that "The thought that Blair Witch Project just might be real makes it much scarier than any of the teen horror flicks that have stumbled along in recent years." - (Lemire, 2013)

Fig.2 Josh Leonard (Left) & Mike Williams (Right)

As the title says, the film is based on three students who are making a project about the Blair Witch. Arguably, it plays out similar to that of Hitchcock film, as it is some time into the film when all the tension is created, so it, therefore makes us wait. We expect things in the early scenes, which do not happen, and so we become afraid of things without them taking place. That is an incredible thing to say as it is remarkable how just three students with a camera can create such fear. In early scenes of the film, when we meet secondary characters, we are made aware of the belief that the Blair Witch may or may not exist in the woods. The characters appear un-convinced, as are we.

Fig.3 Heather Donahue

Perhaps, where the film succeeds the most is through the characters and their relationship. Heather Donahue is seen as the main character, which in itself is remarkable, but brilliant. In earlier films, we would expect one of the male characters to be the leader, but this choice demonstrates her desire to make the film, where as Josh Leonard and Mike Williams seem not as interested. As she is the "leader", the way her feelings progress in the film affect the other characters. As she becomes even more terrified, we see the characters start to disagree and argue with each other. They become scared of something that they have no proof of existing. The shaky camera shots highlight how the film is changing. Where as in the earlier scenes, we had steady and focused camera shots, we now start to see close ups and the shot being at an angle. Joe Morgenstern also talks about the camera shots in his review: "The scariest shots, from someone's little Hi-8 camcorder, document the students losing their bearings, giving way to panic and finally falling victim, though off screen, to some ineffably, unphotographably evil presence." - (Morgenstern, 2013). This proves that their desire to learn about the "Witch" has escaped and so now want to escape the "Witch".

Fig.4 The Woods

The Blair Witch Project has a simple idea with a simple method of film making, but is one of the greatest, and most memorable, horror films in recent years. It makes us terrified without showing us anything, but through the dramatic use of camera angles and terrified expressions of the characters, we start to believe in what is not seen. Roger Ebert refers to this in his review of the film that ""The Blair Witch Project" is a reminder that what really scares us is the stuff we can't see." - (Ebert,1999). It truly redefined found footage films and has lead to the surge in independent films in the last decade. 

Illustration List:
Fig.1 The Blair Witch Project (1999) Movie Poster - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/26/Blair_Witch_Project.jpg - (Accessed 28/04/2015)

Fig.2 Josh Leonard (Left) & Mike Williams (Right) https://comedicallywitty.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/blair-witch-project-2.jpg - (Accessed 28/04/2015)

Fig.3 Heather Donahuehttp://cdn.bloody-disgusting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Screen-Shot-2014-10-15-at-9.25.14-PM-620x400.png - (Accessed 28/04/2015)

Fig.4 The Woodshttps://filmfork-cdn.s3.amazonaws.com/content/blairwitch.png - (Accessed 28/04/2015)

Ebert, Roger (1999) - The Blair Witch Project - http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-blair-witch-project-1999 - (Accessed 28/04/2015)

Lemire, Christy (2013) -  The Blair Witch Project (1999) - http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/blair_witch_project/ - (Accessed 28/04/2015)

Morgenstern, Joe (2013) - The Blair Witch Project (1999) - http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/blair_witch_project/ - (Accessed 28/04/2015)

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