Long before found footage horror became a major thing, and its own sub-genre, there was a little film that could. Audiences flocked to see the little indie film that packed a lot into its runtime. It became an instant classic.
The Artisan Entertainment film “The Blair Witch Project”, may have set the standard for a new kind of horror, but all these years later, it may simply be known as a surprise hit film.
This horror film stars Heather Donahue (“The Morgue”, “Manticore”), Michael C. Williams (“Law & Order: SVU”, “The Objective”), and Joshua Leonard (“True Detective”, “If I Stay”).
The film was written and directed by Daniel Myrick (“The Objective”, “Solstice”) and Eduardo Sanchez (“V/H/S/2”, “Lovely Molly”).
The film originally opened on July 30, 1999.
As with “The Exorcist”, too much time has passed and a lot of stories have been told. While normally this shouldn’t ruin a films ability to entertain or surprise you, in this case, it does.
I was excited to watch this, mainly so I could finally be able to say I’d seen “The Blair Witch Project”. However, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, apart from those well known scenes spoofed or shown over and over again on those VH1 countdowns, I’d really heard nothing about it. How does one prepare for a film that was called “scary” by critics and had audiences terrified as well?
So in I go, ready to experience a film that I’d only heard about. What did I discover? Come on, you know that answer already. This film did nothing but try to make me nauseous.
It wasn’t scary. I did all the right things too. I turned off the lights. I minimized, probably more than normal, the distractions. Yes, I’m one of those that sometimes distracts easily. And I got comfortable to watch a film, all the while trying to put myself in the same mindset that any viewer would’ve had at that time. To no avail.
It was, however, less annoying, with it’s switch between night and day, than any of the recent “Paranormal Activity” films. But that still wasn’t going to get me scared or worried in the slightest. I will say, however, that what I did like, were the characters.
While there’s nothing particularly interesting about the characters, it’s how they started off in one state of mind, and slowly digressed into something else. They started out on reasonably good terms, but after some time, and a lot of sleepless nights and wandering around, practically aimless, they begin to turn on each other. Each one is suffering, in some way, psychological issues and it begins to show. For me, this entire change in each character is progressively more interesting by the minute.
Sadly, beyond that, there was nothing interesting. For a film with a pretty solid story, and execution, particularly for the time it came out, it wasn’t scary, even remotely. I wanted to be scared or at least anxious, but I wasn’t. And I don’t think that any amount of watching it or trying to convince myself otherwise, will help. Along with the length of time, I blame the nature of these found footage films. They’re just terrible and overly cliche. Only one other film was mildly well done and good. That film being “Cloverfield”. Not all films are meant to be lasting gems. Inspirations, maybe, but nothing more.
Some films may be launch pads for later films, or inspirations, but as time goes by, they don’t hold the same sway as they once did. For this film, even when I think on it in the time of 1999, I can’t even convince myself that this was an effective film then. How and why people talked about this so much, as a good scary film, is beyond me. The only thing that has been able to come from this, is now I can make a lot more jokes, with this film at the center.