Release Date: July 30, 1999
Director(s): Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez
Stars: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard
Runtime: 81 min
Tagline: Scary as hell.
A low-budget horror flick penned by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, which isn’t as scary as it seemed to present itself as.
Three film students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams) go on an adventure into the woods to make a documentary of the local urban legend, The Blair Witch. Once there, and once lost, they experience odd ritualistic set-ups and feel as if something is watching their every move. One year later, their footage is recovered and their story has reached the surface.
The whole thing seems like it would be set up to be a true story, and I wasn’t really sure while watching if it was or not, so when information verified for me that it wasn’t, sort of just tainted my general view of the film. The film is quite original, though, considering that the urban mythology was made up. It isn’t “scary as hell,” but some scenes can be intense and suspenseful.
The characters are really annoying, holy crap. Heather’s the most irritating, she’s always talking and nagging and whining, which made me think, “You’re one of the most annoying characters in the history of cinema and I really hope you get killed off first, but I know that won’t happen because you’re the main protagonist.” The idea of going out into the woods to film the documentary was hers, and she’s calling all of the shots. Joshua is Heather’s friend, and then Mike is just a guy in their class and he wanted to help make the documentary. When they get lost and all of the odd stuff starts occurring, they really just turn on each other and start nagging which makes the film have way too much conflict and often just really irritating.
The film isn’t really all that terrifying but can be pretty eerie. There aren’t any pop-out scares or anything, but the filmmakers know how to give instill intensity in its viewers. It also does a great job of striking fear into us by using three common fears: the unknown, things that go bump in the night (so eerie noises) and the dark.
It is quite spooky when the sun goes down; because you know at night something is going to happen. Each night, whatever is stalking these film students , increases in danger and severity.
The Blair Witch Project is a very profitable endeavor, having a small budget of $22,000 (if my research is correct) and making about $240.5 million. It is one of the finest films shot in the found footage format, but is quite overrated by critics alike. This isn’t my favourite flick in the ‘found footage’ subgenre, but it isn’t my least favourite, either.
It isn’t a huge waste of time because of its 81-minute running time, but didn’t offer me many redeeming qualities for me to totally love it. I didn’t despise it but I didn’t like it on a high level, and it’s highly disappointing. The characters aren’t very good, but the actors do pretty well considering the majority of their lines were improvised, and shoot most of the film themselves.
The camerawork is fairly poor, with all of their running around and whole shaky cam crap. The film knows how to be suspenseful, but it also can be extremely boring and irritating. The characters are extremely poor, but the actors do a fairly good job for as little as the crew told them to do.
T.B.W.P. offers a home-made mockumentary experience, that can be suspenseful, eerie and boring; offers poor camerawork and annoying characters, but fairly good [genuine] acting; has memorable sequences and builds up quite well to an unrewarding ending (but it very, very expected) and is pretty well-structured, but isn’t an experience I’ll want to try to endure again.
[I couldn’t find it in myself to give it a 60, but it isn’t a 50 bad]