Blair Witch Project

The scariest movie since the Exorcist? Well, maybe not. But the Blair Witch Project is a refreshing look at horror movies. Everything here is implied horror. You don't really see anything, it's all in your head. And the more you think about what happens in this movie, the creepier it gets. There are also some scenes where all you see is a black screen, and all you hear are strange background noises and the actors panicking. By the end of the movie, you will definitely have an uneasy feeling about the events that occurred on the screen. In order to facilitate this, writer/directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick made this a mock documentary. Three students, Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, and Joshua Leonard (playing themselves) set off into the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, to film a documentary on the Blair Witch, a local legend. They disappeared, and their footage was found. The movie is that footage.

This is probably the first movie to be marketed over the Internet. A steady buzz had been building for well over 6 months before its initial release. The initial preview, with Heather pointing the camera at herself, crying and apologizing, was very well done. Its website contains interviews, news reports, wood cuttings, police tapes and photos, and a multitude of other things that serve to flesh out the story of the Blair Witch, as well as subsequent strange occurrences that happened in the area. Its a truly fascinating site that you could lose yourself in for a couple hours. You don't need to visit the site to enjoy the movie, the reading many of the things on the site lets you appreciate the thought taken into making this movie. It exploded into theaters, with phenomonal $55,000+ per screen averages, without the help of television or radio ads.

The movie itself starts off very innocently. Heather has the video camera, and Josh mans the 8mm. They are filming their little excursion through the woods for Heather's documentary, and Heather is taping continuously for posterity. But, as they get deeper into the woods, strange things start to happen. The longer they are there, the more terrified they get. And the more terrified they get, the more terrified you get. To reveal more would spoil the fun.

Equally refreshing is the manner in which Blair Witch was filmed. It had a shoestring 6 figure budget. The film was shot by the lead actors (with the video camera and the 16mm) in a shaky cam style. After all, they were just holding the cameras while they hiked. Most of the dialogue was improvised. Donahue, Williams, and Leonard spent about a week in the woods filming it. Sanchez and Myrick shadowed them in full camoflage, creeping them out, always out of sight. So some of the terror that you see the kids experience is probably real. According to the directors, no one was ever lost, since each group had GPS gear to help them pinpoint their locations.

Haro rates it: Really Good
1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated R for language.