One of the hardest things to do here on horror island is attempt to review movies that have dated a bit. When they first came out, these movies were many times innovative and loved. Fast-forward to the here and now and you may watch a movie you once loved and realize that there are major flaws. I believe this is the case with The Blair Witch Project, a movie about three young adults that venture off into the Maryland woods to make a documentary about a folk ghost tale. What made this movie so special when it came out was its use of found footage, a technique that is now quite common. The found footage is meant to pull you into the film and make you feel as if you are there and one with the person holding the camera. This first person viewpoint can be effective, but there are numerous turnoffs. The footage in The Blair Witch Project is shaky to an extreme and is also very grainy. Of course, all of these things were innovative at the time, but now it almost seems to hinder the movie. This alone is not enough to make me begin to dislike the film. What I didn’t realize when I first watched the movie was how painstakingly annoying the characters are. They are simply unlikeable, especially Heather Donahue. While I began to hate each one of them at different times, I did realize that maybe this was just another authenticating ploy by the filmmakers. If I was lost in the woods, wouldn’t I begin to hate people and go crazy myself?
With the footage and the evolution of the characters, this film is so realistic it’s almost a fault. Nevertheless, the slow buildup and overall pacing of the movie is well done, even if it is slow at times. There may be moments when you are telling yourself that this film isn’t scary at all, but once the movie does end and the finale takes place, there is a sinister feeling left over. Atmospheric to the max, this movie is going to be a love/hate relationship and isn’t meant for people looking for pop-out scares.
So on the grand scale of things, is the film worth watching? The Blair Witch Project is one hundred percent a must see film, but please do not step into it with any expectations whatsoever. If you have seen movies like Paranormal Activity or [REC], then you are probably going to find this film lackluster since you already experienced found footage. Still, this movie was innovative and considering it is 14 years old, it still delivers a lasting scare. It makes you genuinely scared to venture into forests and it also makes you wonder how you would hold up mentally when an emergency does take place.
Horror island welcomes a supernatural witch that isn’t actually seen at any point in the film. Sometimes the best villains are the ones we don’t see, the ones creeping about in our sleep and driving us to insanity. They may lie in the shadows, but the other creatures should be aware that if they go into their forest, these witches have no problem with torture and murder. Just like many other great predators, these beings set the trap and wait for their prey to walk into it, but is that enough on an island full of bloodthirsty villains that stalk their prey so diligently and proficiently?
If you liked The Blair Witch Project, you might also like Sinister and [REC].