The Blair Witch Project is one of the most iconic films of the 90’s, and it’s even credited with starting the found footage genre, but I wasn’t looking forward to re-watching it. I saw this when it came out and figured it wouldn’t age well. I WAS WRONG!
The Blair Witch Project has the stunningly simple premise of, “let’s shoot a documentary about a spooky place/thing in the woods” and as we all know, nothing good ever happens in the woods.
Before heading into the woods they stop at the closest town and interview the locals about the likelihood of such a myth, and received varying stories of belief and terror mixed with skeptics.
As they venture into the woods things start to grow alarming and they start to wonder if they are lost.
Things take a turn for the worst as they realize that they got more witch than they bargained for.
The Blair Witch Project is widely held to be the movie that kicked off the found footage genre. There are plenty of examples of found footage before this film, such as:
- Cannibal Holocaust
- Cannibal Ferox
- The Faces of Death Series
- The Connection
- The Last Broadcast
- 84 Charlie MoPic
- Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood
While these movies ranged in release date all the way back to the late 60’s the genre never gathered significant steam or public interest until the release of Blair Witch.
Many of these movies, including Blair Witch, capitalized on the mistaken assumption that the movie was actual footage of real-life events that just happened to be caught on tape.
The hype train that surrounded the release of this movie was a sight to behold. This is one of, or maybe the first movie ever to rely primarily on an internet marketing campaign.
Check out our review of Paranormal Activity 2
The movie itself is something of an anomaly, not quite a film, and not quite a home video. It is hard to place it squarely in a genre. With the added suggestion that the footage was real, it made this a real freak show.
The Blair Witch Project relies heavily on audience buy-in and it is able to accomplish it by being very believable by nature. This is how young twenty-somethings would act, and something they would do, and the scenario they find themselves in is pretty easily a universal nightmare to any viewer.
I saw this in theaters upon release, and never again since. I was not looking forward to a rewatch because I thought I had this movie pegged from the first viewing. I did not. It still works! It’s still scary as shit, believable, and a crazy-fun ride from beginning to end.
The poor footage quality, total amateur filming style and distant audio sound coupled with the setting of the New England woods, holds up well.
While it lacks the polish and delivery that a true filmmaker’s film would deliver, it’s supposed to.
If you enjoy this movie you should also check out The Curse of the Blair Witch, a Sci-Fi Channel documentary that accompanied the theatrical release of the movie.