The Blair Witch Project (1999)

blair witch project poster 1999 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 2/10
Visuals: 7/10

Clever marketing campaign

Poorly organized, acted, presented

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Blair Witch Project

Studio:  Haxan Films

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  July 30, 1999

MPAA Rating:  R

blair-witch-project-guys

We already hate you

Three young adults, Heather (Heather Donahue), Michael (Michael C. Williams), and Josh (Joshua Leonard), entered woods near Burkettsville, Maryland to shoot a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch in 1994. They were never heard from again. The film footage from their project was found in the forest. This is the story of what happened on the trip and the evil that came for them.

The Blair Witch Project was directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez and became one of the biggest hits of all time due to the low-budget approach to shooting. The movie was an early benefiter from viral online marketing and also put reality based “found footage” films as a style of horror. Many went in (and left) thinking the story was real.

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The scene forever parodied…thanks Blair Witch…thanks a lot.

The movie in reality, isn’t that good. Yes the concept was smart, yes the advertising was awesome, but the film didn’t live up to hype. The acting is terrible. The only part that works is the interviews at the beginning of the film. They were plants on the street that the director had the actors find. The stories they tell are interesting, but also do not establish a clear line of information on the Blair Witch. Once you are trapped in the the least threatening woods with Heather, Michael, and Josh, you want the Blair Witch to kill them…violently. They are very obnoxious. The “I kicked the map in the river” part shows their weakness as actors…it was so unbelievable (along with the fact Heather claimed to be a hiker and couldn’t get them out of the woods…at least firmly establish that they are being held magically).

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Is this because I kicked the map in the river…I know it was a dick move.

The movie doesn’t establish any clear narrative on what the Blair Witch really is. It provides a muddled story of a witch, some dead bodies at a creek, some cemetery, and a guy killing kids…with no connection between anything. Is the witch possessing people? Does she roam the woods or is it her “people”. Once they are in the woods, it was obvious that the director didn’t know what to do to make the story scary. Muffled screams in the night (the sound is awful…you can never hear anything that the characters say “did you hear that” about). The house, the bundle of sticks, the cairns, the stickmen…nothing is established. I couldn’t even tell it was teeth in the stick bundle. I just had to assume. It is like a bad fun house made by kids.

blair-witch-project-marketing

Clever marketing campaign

The movie was often shot by the actual characters and it shows. Yes, that allows some authenticity, but it doesn’t help for watching purposes. Many viewers found themselves sick by the jerky camera movements. Watching it now, it isn’t as bad because there are many movies shot like The Blair Witch Project now. It is easier to stomach.

Found footage stories just don’t have what is needed to keep themselves interesting. You know you are headed for a bad ending. The movie’s ending shots are actually decent. I don’t have much of a problem with the last images, but still I wanted more payout in this movie since I had to sit through almost an hour and a half of whiny by the main characters.

The Blair Witch Project is bad, but I do admire the sense of style that the producers used to bring it to the screen. I don’t know how people could have watched the movie and believed it was real. It didn’t help that I was from the Midwest and Heather Donahue was in Steak ‘N Shake commercials at the time. I can’t recommend this movie, but I do think it is important for understand where horror has gone since its release. The Blair Witch Project was followed by Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 in 2000.

Related Links:

Book of Shadows:  Blair Witch 2 (2000)

Blair Witch (2016)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by

Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn’t afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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