Blair Witch Project  

First  it starts with something little and grows and keeps on growing at a phenomenal rate, like the birth of a tornado, a thing of beauty and incredible force, growing into a twisting howling destroyer……………and then calm……………..as if nothing happened. This is not the plot or premise of The Blair Witch Project rather it is the irrelevant hype surrounding this movie. In this case it started at The Sundance Film Festival, and then gained momentum over the internet and then the marketing campaign kicked in. By the time it reached New York people were camping outside the cinema where it was being shown (trying to ‘live’ the phenomenal hype as per The Phantom Menace). Amazingly a film that cost $40 000 took more than $100 million at the US box office alone and is set to become the most profitable film of all time. 

BUT (and it is a very big ‘but’) is it any good? The simple answer is no. Yes, you read that right, NO. It seems that American audiences were much more impressed by this pseudo-documentary than anyone else which doesn’t surprise, which is not a racist slur, rather the rest of the world seems to have seen the light and not been sucked into the undeserved hype that surround the film. Have one group of people managed to keep the public fooled into thinking that it is much more than a movie? Yes.  

The Blair Witch Project is masquerades as a video diary of three film students. This trio embark on a quest to unravel the Blair Witch legend, a creature said to haunt the Black Hills Forrest near Burkittsville, Maryland. Our intrepid ‘heroes’ start by interviewing slow witted locals about the mythical figure before embarking on into the woods. We then follow the characters for three days while things get progressively worse, starting with getting lost, losing maps, increased hostility towards one another, and running around the woods screaming. All to no real consequence, apart from piles of stones and twigs nothing really happens.  

The suspense is left to the viewer to fill in, which has been done to much greater effect with films such as Jaws. The key difference with films like Jaws is that there was an entity at the end of the film, not to be seen till nearly the films end. The horror never materialises in The Blair Witch Project leaving it painfully boring.  

The biggest problem with this film is that the tension build up is repetitive and after a while very annoying. Whenever a scene shows potential, it ends, no follow on, no explanation, cuts to the next day for example. The camera work is frustrating and appears as a high quality home video (ironically, that’s what it is, but do you really want to see that for 90 minutes?). Worst of all, although the three leads are trying to be convincing, no-one ever cares what happens to them, they are selfish, bickering, and just plain annoying. The two directors, Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, didn’t tell the actors fully to what they were up to, leaving much room for improvisation (or lack of it in this case). Sanchez and Myrick did the ‘scaring’ of the students themselves at night, hitting trees and making noises, keeping the actors unaware of their actions, which is probably the only reason the actors look afraid and scream a lot.  

With very little music, only sound effects, the film tries to elevate the fear and terror  the old-fashioned way, through the viewers imagination, but lack of one is needed to suffer this torture and enjoy it.   

Unfortunately with a film like The Blair Witch Project, one comes away without the emotional expectance of the hype, and wonders why you wasted the time and money to watch this. The idea is innovative and very worthy but fails to stimulate. At first people believed it to be a documentary, the actual found footage of what happened in Burkittsville, although a Burkittsville Tourist Information film would have been more compelling to watch. Remember: Don’t believe the hype!!

 SCORE 1/10

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