Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Before we all chuckle at the found-footage genre, let's take a moment and show respect for how fucking groundbreaking The Blair Witch Project was.  Since it's been nearly 15 years (!!!) and we've seen about a billion shaky-cam movies since then, it's easy to forget that Blair Witch was pretty goddamn shocking when it came out.  Remember when we thought these people were actually missing?!  Like before they did Oprah?  This movie truly inspired a cultural phenomenon.  The hunting season suffered, as tourists descended on the woods of Maryland looking for the Blair Witch.  The sign at the entrance to Burkittsville was stolen numerous times.  And of course, it launched the found-footage subgenre of horror, which continues to this day.  This movie was made in 8 days for $22,000 and grossed $241 million.

So in case you just fell out of the sky, The Blair Witch Project is about some 20-somethings making a documentary about a local legend in Maryland.  Apparently the producers convinced the actors that this story was real, even though it was completely fabricated for the movie.  They interview a bunch of townspeople, and then take off into the woods to find evidence of the Blair Witch.

Apparently a lot of the aggravation in the woods is real.  Not only did the crew torment the actors with pranks and scares, but also reduced their food rations in order to make them more irritable.  Also, we all can't forget that rumor -- "you can see the period blood on her jeans!  She didn't know they were going to be out there that long!"

As the hours wear on, they all seem to realize that they didn't plan this out well enough, and they're constantly lost.  While constantly consulting the map, they always blame each other for their situation.  Meanwhile, the weird occurrences escalate.  Strange rock formations outside their tent.  Things that go bump in the night.  One thing you can't disparage this movie for is the acting and emotion.  These people were scared as shit, and it showed.  When they see the same creek again, I got a little chill.  Yes, the up-close shot with the boogers and everything is a little overdone.  But I don't care what y'all say.  When they see those little hand prints on the wall and see dude standing in the corner -- come on, we ALL were scared.

It's easy to dismiss this movie since the found footage realm has just become so saturated.  But this was truly a pioneer and if we can put aside our jaded minds for a moment, we horror fans should all appreciate this movie for what it is.  Also, haters gonna hate, but I loveeeee Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows.