The Blair Witch Project (1999); Rated R
Found video footage tells the tale of three film students who've traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch,
a legendary local murderer. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale's veracity.
But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.
I think the film of The Blair Witch Project is fear of the unknown. This film takes this theme quite literally in the fact that the audience never actually really sees the Blair Witch or any of the scary things that the three characters see and hear. Heather, Josh, and Mike all go into the forest just expecting, at most, a few pieces of evidence of the Blair Witch. However, they soon get way more than they bargained for. The fear that the characters experience is almost worse than any other type because they don’t know what it is. This makes the characters become gradually more and more mentally insane, and drive them to their deaths.
I think this film integrates some attributes of the Overcoming the Monster story type. There is definitely an anticipation stage when the three first start to hear things at night and when they suspect the map is not taking them where they want to go. There is also a dream stage when the characters can’t believe what they are seeing is real (when they see all the crosses in the trees) and are terrified of the monster. However, one thing that this story type has that is not in the movie is the ability to fight back. Although Heather, Josh, and Mike try to run away and escape the forest, they never try to defeat the Blair Witch, hence there are no Frustration and Nightmare stages. And lastly, there is no Miraculous escape because the Blair Witch ends up killing all three of the characters.
The filmmaking component that stood out to me the most was, obviously, the shooting of this film. It cannot be analyzed like other movies because they are no choices of how to transition between scenes, how to angle a shot, how to move the camera, etc. The found footage film technique chooses to take away many elements, like those mentioned, in order to have the feeling of being realistic. I enjoy watching these documentary-type movies because I feel like I am really immersed in the story.
I believe that this film tells its story well visually, even though a lot of the story relies on sound. As mentioned in the above question, this movie does not have a lot of choices with what it can do visually. And although I do think that the sound contributes a lot to the scariness of the movie, such as the terrified screams, the arguments between the characters, and the noises of the Blair Witch, I believe that even if these things were eliminated, the audience could still pick up on what was going on in the movie. This can be seen through the character’s faces, whether it was night or day, and most importantly, whenever the camera was turned on. In The Blair Witch Project, the audience knows that the camera is only turned on when something “exciting” is going to happen, especially in the night, so they would be able to pick up on the horror the characters are experiencing.
The sequence that struck me the most in this movie was the ending scenes in the cabin. These struck me the most because it was a change of environment that did not occur before in the film. I also think that this is the scariest part of the movie, especially the very last shot with Mike standing in the corner. The anticipation is so high during these scenes, and you know that there is not going to be a happy ending.
I enjoyed watching this movie. I know some people wish it was scarier, but I liked it how it was. I think that this movie is scary in a way that many people, especially teenagers, are not familiar with today. Because of all the amazing special effects that have been used since 1999, it appears that this film cannot be compared to the horror of other movies. However, I think it is still a scary movie today because of all the things the audience can’t see. This adds to the suspense and eeriness. I also admire this movie for being one of the first movies to pioneer the “found footage” technique and the marketing and advertisement. I also think that it is very unlike other movies we have seen, so I appreciated watching it.