The Blair Witch Project (1999): Halloween Review

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“The Blair Witch Project” can be difficult to watch at times (mostly due to motion sickness from the found footage style), but still effectively scares me each time I watch it. There is not much gore or any jump scares, so the movie relies on the “reality” of the found footage to paint a haunting picture of a film project gone wrong. The candor of the arguments caught on tape mixed with the idea of being psychologically tortured by an invisible force are what makes “The Blair Witch Project” so successful.

 Heather Donahue definitely steals the show with her performance, especially the scene where she apologizes to everyone’s family as she cries into the camera. The shot is so close on Heather’s eyes that we can see the tears welling up before falling down her cheeks, which forces the audience to think about how terrifying their situation is.

When I first watched this movie four years ago, I had just barely started my education on film. I thought the relationship between the three characters was strange, since they seemed not to know each other as well as you would expect to know someone you are going into a haunted forest with. Now that I watched it again after I’ve been on a few film sets, I completely understand the work dynamic between the three characters.

Heather reminds me of me, in all the worst ways. She is annoying, dramatic, and really bad with directions, but still drives the team forward with her creative force. Josh seems to know Heather the best and keeps a sense of humor within the group while also being able to put Heather in her place. Mike is like the guy on set that you met through a friend of a friend who just happened to know how to work a camera and was free that weekend. Ultimately, all three of the characters are fools for camping in a haunted forest, so they deserved to die.

This movie doesn’t rely on jump scares, as most of “The Blair Witch Project” asks the audience to listen rather than watch. Many of the shots are from the perspective of Heather or Mike running, so the footage is blurry and unwatchable. During these scenes, the viewer is forced to listen for horrifying sounds that are truly the scariest part of the whole movie. We get all the background information from listening to locals telling their version of the Blair Witch before having to listen to the sounds of the witch without ever seeing her. If you don’t pay attention to the sounds, you miss most of the horror of “The Blair Witch Project.”  

Filmnetic Grade: A-

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