Horror is not really my forté, influenced by the general lack of the genre this month. I’m not much of a thrill seeker, and the stress involved with being scared isn’t something I particularly care for. It really doesn’t help that I’m easily scared. The Blair Witch Project is among the first “scary” movies I’ve seen in a long while, and I was surprised to find how enjoyable it was outside of my growing anxiety of defending myself from jump scares. For this post, I decided I’ll keep it simple and make a to-the-point pro/con list.
- Use of low-quality camera and first-person perspective brings an extra layer of realism that makes the unusual events feel more impactful.
- Build-up surrounding the legend of the Blair Witch is hinted at with each passing night the characters are stranded within the woods.
- Character interactions feel as though one is watching a raunchy episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. I don’t know how much more realistic it could possibly be.
- No additional background music or sound effects make for an unsettling depiction of nature’s horror.
- Lots of night scenes with limited light. Multiplies the impact of suspense by never being able to see what is actively pursuing them.
- Effects of being stranded for days weighs heavily on the characters’ behavior halfway through the film. Increasing tension and hostility leads way to harsher reality once things go further amiss.
- Pacing is pretty fluid, though it stutters occasionally near the end.
- Character behavior seems somewhat stunted near the beginning. Specifically with the female lead, who can’t seem to ever put down the camera.
- [Spoiler] There was absolutely no reason why Mike would kick the group’s map into the river. The excuse was garbage and unless he was being controlled, makes zero sense.
- Within the last twenty minutes of the film, a few scenes feel unnecessary, specifically ones only there to further accentuate isolation between the characters and the outside world.
- In hindsight, the Blair Witch doesn’t seem to have any sense of purpose. Writing that surrounds it seems somewhat on-the-spot. Not that it can’t be senseless, but was it ever implied that it toyed with victims beforehand?
One could perhaps see this as a hesitant experience in terms of stability of quality, as I’m fairly unfamiliar with most things horror and suspense. There are films that could very well have done all The Blair Witch Project does to far better effect—I’m simply inexperienced in that department. Not to conclude that the film is child’s play or not worth watching, as I enjoyed the film a great deal and felt the way it focused the story was immensely effective in its approach to horror. It might also help that I was once a fan of Marble Hornets, whose brand of storytelling and use of first-person perspective was likely inspired by The Blair Witch Project. Perhaps most importantly of all, was I scared at all during the film? I was. My heart rate increased dramatically during the final night scene of the film, though I was never on the verge of tears or anything like that. That’s more than I can say for The Shining.
Final Score: 7/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!