Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Film Review: The Blair Witch Poject

The sixth film we watched from the ‘The Cutting Edge’ film programme was The Blair Witch Project, which was directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez and was released in 1999.

Entering into the world of witchcraft, spirits and superstitious legend, three promising film makers venture into the supposed haunted woods of small town in Maryland, USA. 

The Blair Witch Project is a terribly frightening horror and not for the reasons we would normally associate with horror. That's right Saw fans, no blood, guts, mutilated corpses or special effects here. Instead this film plays on the fears of being lost in a place that is very isolated from any form of civilisation and the paranoia that close follows suit. The three protagonists of the film are made to feel hunted, that something they can't see or rationalise is chasing and torturing them. As Roger Ebert states:

""The Blair Witch Project," an extraordinarily effective horror film, knows this and uses it. It has no fancy special effects or digital monsters, but its characters get lost in the woods, hear noises in the night and find disturbing stick figures hanging from trees. One of them discovers slime on his backpack. Because their imaginations have been inflamed by talk of witches, hermits and child murderers in the forest, because their food is running out and their smokes are gone, they (and we) are a lot more scared than if they were merely being chased by some guy in a ski mask."

The horror style of this film was made and executed to take effect psychologically, playing not only with the victimised protagonists in which strange occurrences are taking place around them, but also with the audience using shock values to instil fear and an uncomfortable paranoia. In a review by Film4 they say:

"The sleeper hit of 1999, helped by a brilliant marketing campaign that cleverly used the Internet, is a work whose surface artlessness conceals a sophisticated and meticulously conceived and crafted piece of psychological horror."

The viral internet campaign set up to promote the film did so superbly. Not only was this advertising but before the film could even be seen it was already instilling deep seated fears within its potential audience. However there is some let done in terms of the fear factor in the movie as it wasn't frightening as its viral campaign made it appear, as picked up in a review by Ali Barclay for the BBC: 

"Not as terrifying as advertised, and definitely flawed, it is still one of the most original horror films to have emerged in recent years."


Ebert, Roger (1999) The Blair Witch Project. 
At: (Accessed on 23.02.11)

Film4 (-) The Blair Witch Project. 
At: (Accessed on 23.02.11)

Barclay, Ali (2000) The Blair Witch Project. 
At: (Accessed on 23.02.11)

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