The Blair Witch Project

release year: 1999
genre: horror
viewing setting: theater, limited release, 7/17/99 and again on 8/8/99
what I expected: something cheap, original, and scary
what I got: exactly that

synopsis: In 1994, three film students went into some woods to film a documentary about a local urban legend...and never came back. Years later, the footage they shot was found - and here it is.

impressions: It was done on cheap film, with cheap sound at times, on purpose (see backstory above.) Usually, this wouldn't fly, but here, it works. Watching this film is like watching three amateur filmmakers actually get lost in some woods, realize that they're not alone, and become scared. It was realistic, and the idea and execution were original. The scariness derives not from what you see, but what you CAN'T see: strange sounds in the middle of the night, ambiguous evidence that something was right outside your tent during the night, knowing that you're lost and help is NOT on the way, and so on. The movie was slow for a while, but around the time that the kids realize they're actually in bad trouble, the pace picks up and you can't stop watching. The ending...well, a lot was left unexplained, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. You have to see it for yourself. Now, having said that, I will also say that this movie is somewhat overrated, and the characters were stupid enough that they deserved to die. This film isn't for everybody.

acting: Very good. What the three leads here have done is remarkable yet simple: they played three normal people, perhaps just like you and I, who slowly and quietly get into something that makes no sense and ends up killing them.

official site:

final word: Must-see for horror fans, or anyone who wants to be spooked without seeing blood, gore, or monsters.

rating: C+

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