Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Cutting Edges 12: 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)

Fig.1. 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) Poster
'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) is a film driven by tension. Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez we are treated to a spooky story of 3 friends on the hunt for the Blair Witch.
Fig.2. Film Still
Unlike typical horror films, 'The Blair Witch Project' plays with the audience from start to finish. There are time when you feel yourself on the edge of your seat hoping that at some point something will jump out and put your mind at ease for five minutes, but that is NOT the case. The two directors have the audience in the palm of their hands, they hold the viewer in a tense, horror-filled state of limbo. The film doesn't rely on jump scares to release the tension that has been built up, it is constantly being worked upon, it multiplies until it has your eyes fixated upon the screen wanting to look away...but you can't. 'It would be unfair to give away too much, but the movie gets its chills without resorting to special effects (which it couldn't have afforded anyway) or anything in the way of an explanation) (Thomas, 2000) The lack of special effects is something that adds to the films realism, your imagination runs wild when you even think of what the witch could be, what does this being look like? That is a question that is left un-answered by the directors, again leaving the audience stuck to think for themselves and dwell on the possibilities.
The nausea inducing, found footage style of the film adds to the horror. At times you feel as if you're watching a friends home video of their day out to the woods. It's immersive in a sense that the camera acts as your eye into this world and you are now a part of the events that unfold. Watching the film feels like watching the news, everything seems real, just like the performances by our three characters. Heather, Mike and Josh. Each one of them play their roles perfectly, their performances feel so real which makes it hard for you to disconnect from the bad things that happen to them, you really connect with them as they journey on through the woods. 'Once they get into the woods, the situation gradually turns ominous. They walk in circles. Something happens to their map. Nature itself begins to seem oppressive and dead. They find ominous signs. Bundles of twigs. Unsettling stick figures. (Ebert, 1999) There are times where you feel a high amount of frustration for the three amateur documentary makers. The woods seem endless, they go south, they go east, every way possible and there doesn't seem to be a way out, it could be said that this frustration comes from the audiences connection with the three and how our fear of being lost is being directly projected upon the screen.
Fig.3. Film Still
Unlike the glamorized portrayals of witchcraft presented in much of popular media (think of shows such as Charmed), This film convinces viewers that witches are scary, evil and undesirable. (Isaac,S.D) Yes, they are scary and undesirable and the directors make you believe that they are real, everything feels so real which is why this film is shrouded by such terror.
 'The Blair Witch Project' is a relentless film that will put you in a trance with it's honest and real performances, in a way it reflects the kind of performances that we see in M. Night Shyamalan's 1999 Movie 'The Sixth Sense' only the budget isn't as grand. The immersive camera work is something that works perfectly, unlike many films that have tried and failed it feels that 'The Blair Witch Project'  is a pioneer of the found footage film. A legend within the horror genre...or is it a myth??
Ebert, R (1999) 'The Blair Witch Project' At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-blair-witch-project-1999 Accessed on: 19/04/2016
Isaac, S (S.D) 'The Blair Witch Project' At: http://www.pluggedin.com/movie-reviews/blairwitchproject/ Accessed on: 19/04/2016
Thomas, W (2000) 'The Blair Witch Project Review' At: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/blair-witch-project/review/
Figure 1. 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) [Poster] At:http://cdn.traileraddict.com/content/lionsgate/blairwitch.jpg Accessed on: 19/04/2016
Figure 3. [Film Still] At:http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--OiS7vx3i--/bihxt8v2k1ucctupoins.jpg Accessed on: 19/04/2016