With Blair Witch hitting cinemas on September 16th, your friendly neighbourhood Outpost decided to watch and review the original, so you don’t have to.
Let’s get one thing straight. Whether you love it or hate it, The Blair Witch Project is the Godfather of modern Horror. Before it, following Horror’s peak in the 70s, we had a raft of serial killer and slasher movies and even though we didn’t know it at the time, horror fans were crying out for something fresh.
Step up 3 annoying twenty-somethings with a shaky camera.
Whilst The Blair Witch Project set the path for how horror should present itself, like any beginning, it does have its problems.
Our 3 victims (spoiler alert) aren’t likeable at all and I’ve never found myself rooting for them to make it out of the woods. Heather is just downright annoying, Mike starts whinging as soon as he gets into camp and Josh, well, I suppose he isn’t so bad. Shame he was the first one to go…
Personalities aside, some of the acting made me feel as though I was watching Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Philosophers Stone. With a lot of forced expressions of fear and repeated dialogue, there were moments that made me cringe. You know what though, for an amateur movie, it’s absolutely forgivable. Especially for what it achieved.
I’ve said this already but The Blair Witch Project set out to reposition Horror as we knew it. The fact that it now has a sequel (Book of Shadows doesn’t count) and is still referenced in popular culture shows how much of an impact it had.
We’d never really seen a Horror that put the viewer behind the camera and it felt more real than anything I’d seen before. Some of the haters find the movie slow or boring but having watched it again, The Blair Witch Project just about gets the balance right.
From the moment they enter the woods, things already start to feel eerie. Talk of children going missing, cemeteries and the simple foreboding nature of the woods itself all set the scene with a skill that’s far too often underused.
The Blair Witch Project, being a relatively short movie, knows what it needs to do and the first 20 minutes of local interviews set the story for us, bringing it to life through the voices and memories of the Burkittsville community.
Once our trio enter the woods, the stories of the townsfolk start to ring in our ears as night after night; there are strange noises, voices and piles of rocks. Really simple tools to put us on edge, waiting for the inevitable.
As things start to deteriorate, it almost starts to get the point where you want the movie to end before a branch smacks you in the face and gives you THAT ending. Don’t get me wrong, you’re supposed to have that feeling. You’re behind the camera WITH Heather and Mike and you’re supposed to feel that helplessness, that need to get out.
It gets to the point that you hate the woods and the thing/things that seem to be stalking you and you’re willing Heather and Mike to find Josh and get the hell out. Some may say that’s the hallmark of a poor narrative but I think it’s a really clever way of putting you in the characters shoes.
It’s all leading to the climax of the movie which, when you get there, doesn’t explain anything. You’re left with an unreal amount of questions about bloody hand prints and men standing in corners but in Horror movies, I can’t think of a better way to end things.
We know from the get go that no-one really knows anything about The Blair Witch. It’s all rumour and myth and why should we be the lucky ones to know the real truth behind the legend?
Much like the marketing campaign that went before it (and much like the one that’s preceded Blair Witch’s release this year); we still don’t really know anything about what happened.
What we do know is that anyone going into those woods is an idiot.
4* - Mapped out the path for all future Horror