Blair Witch (2016)

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Found-footage horror movies are a strange format for filmmaking that sometimes works wonderfully, and other times dully, an uninspired mess with the storytelling technique utilized for pure gimmickry and nothing else.  People forget that when the original Blair Witch Project came out in 1999, it was totally unlike anything anyone had ever seen (I mean, Cannibal Holocaust already existed, but unless you were a gore hound, you probably had no idea it existed).  And unlike the hundreds and hundreds of impostors that have been released since, The Blair Witch Project didn’t present itself as a “found-footage” horror movie for any other reason than it was the most effective method of telling that story.  On the DVD special features, you can find a faux documentary that is also pretty well-done and creepy, but nothing compared to the actual feature film.  There was something so raw about it, so boiled-down-to-its-essence scary that made a lot of people forget that it thrived on ambiguity.  Whether or not there was even a witch in the movie was completely irrelevant.  What mattered was taking primal fears and running with them.  No one is inherently afraid of witches, but we’re all afraid of the unknown, and we’re all afraid of being killed by it.  That’s why the original film is so effective.

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Classic Movie Review: The Blair Witch Project

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The Blair Witch Project is the first movie I can recall in my life that was immensely popular and, as a result, became very popular to hate.  The reasons were usually sort of samey:  The camera shakes too much, it made the viewer feel nauseous, nothing happens, it’s boring, it’s this, it’s that, it’s whatever.  Most of all, the people who hated it just didn’t think it was scary.

What people find scary is going to vary from person to person, so if The Blair Witch Project doesn’t do it for you, it’s not going to do it for you.  But for those who enjoy the movie as much as I do, there’s a lot there for the viewer.  It’s a real treat.  It’s a real rarity in the world of films that it was such a huge, just phenomenal success at the box office and immediately became a piece of our pop culture fabric.

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