Film Review: The Blair Witch Project

Saturday 12 September 2015 by

The Blair Witch Project, Film, Nineties, Horror

I know I’m massively late to the party with this, but I finally got the guts to watch The Blair Witch Project.

I love scaring myself silly, and of course this is meant to be one of the most terrifying of them all. And for some reason, I have managed to bypass this film for the last couple of decades – even avoiding the large part of the plot.

But did I love this genre-defining 90s horror flick?

Well. I guess so. I was suitably spooked – an empty woods is scary in itself. But I actually really struggled with the audio, which makes me think that I missed a whole load of the tension. There was a joyous 90s vibe about it, and I took certain pleasure in settling in to what is – to me – familiar visual territory. But the audio was flaky, which meant whole swathes of conversation was missed, and I had to turn it up full volume to be able to hear the noises in the woods at night.

I can fully understand why this film became so iconic. It’s an unusual concept (even now, following Cloverfield and others), and it’s done so that you never forget that it’s being shot in such a way. It feels authentic. Unfortunately, what doesn’t feel authentic is the whole “this footage was found a year later” part at the beginning. You can dispense with that and still get the full enjoyment from the film. There are clunky moments – swept under the rug by the filming style – that are tics from 90s films that I remember so well.

But as for scared out of my mind? Not so much. It’s spooky, it makes you jump, and the ending is suitably scream-worthy. But it has nothing on the scale of Paranormal Activity or some of the modern horrors. You don’t need blood and gore to terrify, you just need a good hook that eats in to the psychology of the viewer and sticks. This doesn’t have stick. Look at the enduring popularity of Scream, and you see a wide difference in the two. The Blair Witch Project was a flash-in-the-pan film, but in the end went towards redefining the horror genre, with its filming styles leaping on from those before it, and evolving in to much of what we see now with “recovered footage” films.

Worth the watch, but not worth remembering.

 

 

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