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 and admirable, innovative idea

Poorly organized, acted, presented

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Blair Witch Project

Studio:  Haxan Films

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  January 25, 1999 (Sundance)/July 30, 1999

MPAA Rating:  R

blair witch project stick figures

The Blair Witch is into knickknacks and crafting

In 1994, Heather (Heather Donahue) has a plan to make a documentary about the Burkittsville, Maryland local legend of the Blair Witch.  With her cameraman Josh (Joshua Leonard) and his assistant Mike (Michael C. Williams), she heads into the woods in search of answers but finds only horror.  Something means to keep Heather, Mike, and Joshua in the woods, and even with maps and compasses, the film crew can’t seem to find the way out.  The darkness surrounding the Blair Witch is about to reveal itself and The Blair Witch Project could be the only evidence left in its wake!

Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, The Blair Witch Project is a low budget found footage horror film.  The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival and utilized early internet viral marketing to spread positive word of mouth.  The low budget combined with strong box office returns to make the film one of the most profitable films of all time.  The film won a Razzie for Worst Actress (Donahue) and a nomination for Worst Picture.

blair witch project joshua leonard michael c williams

Man…I just want to say we hate you, Heather

The hype for The Blair Witch Project was everywhere in 1999.  The idea of a “real” horror movie mixed with the fiction of the story to create a weird in-between reception that tricked some people (my sister included) into thinking the film was real (despite the fact that Heather Donahue was starring in commercials for the fast food chain Steak ‘N Shake at the time).  I admire the smart nature of the marketing of The Blair Witch Project and the movie definitely has some moments…but it also suffers from the “found footage” curse that it helped create.

The story is pretty flimsy, but it is meant to be.  The story has be unstructured enough to resemble unedited raw film, but it also still has to tell a story.  The “townies” at the beginning are there to tell the basis of the Blair Witch story, but that too seems rather muddled in the basics of the witch or people affected by her.  The movie (like most found footage films) has the issue of not being able to have a resolution (though I like the Mike in the corner aspect).

blair witch project i am so sorry heather donahue

I’m so sorry to have cursed generation with looking at my snotty nose

The movie suffers in that it casts three very unlikable leads.  Heather Donahue comes off as a jerk the entire film and as she pushes her reasons for continuing to tape (using it to hold on to sanity), it becomes less and less realistic.  The Joshua Leonard is the most realistic of the three and I like that he just wants to get away from the crazy woman and the guy he brought in.  The Mike “I kicked the map in the river” does a one-eighty by the end and comes off as the voice of reason…but still largely a jerk though I do find it interesting that the two characters who didn’t know each other at the beginning have to “team-up” at the end.

Found footage wasn’t new but it was the movie kind of reintroduced it.  The film doesn’t show much and when it does show things, it is often unclear what you are seeing.  You get a lot of jerky coverage and jiggly running that sometimes even made viewers sick.

blair witch project mike corner ending

No, I’m cool…just dropped a contact

Regardless of my opinion of the actual movie, I think that The Blair Witch Project is an important movie.  It not only changed the genre, but it changed how films were marketed at the time.  It found its niche and utilized it to turn it into a blockbuster.  The film definitely could be better, but it also could not have done any better if more money had been pumped into it.  The effect of The Blair Witch Project is still being felt today as other horror movie makers try to emulate (generally unsuccessfully) its success.  Without The Blair Witch Project we’d have no Paranormal Activity movies, no Chronicle, no Cloverfield, or other the countless others that tried to match the movie…it might not be great or the scariest film, but movie was effective.  The Blair Witch Project is 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/Instagram/Letterboxd @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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