It’s not exactly a new thing in modern film to make a movie completely in the style of something from the days of yore, to make something that looks and feels authentically retro. Lots of movies attempt this and only a few can ever successfully pull it off. The trick is, you have to believe in the style that you’re creating. It can’t just be a gimmick. It has to be something where the style of the film is integral, where the movie couldn’t possibly exist if it were told in a more straightforward fashion.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project is a very, very scary movie that knows how to use its semi-gimmicky (and incredibly innovative at the time) “found-footage” format to good use. Peering through the video’s viewfinder puts us in the direct perspective of Heather, Josh and Mike as they find themselves lost in the Maryland woods, possibly in the realm of an ancient, evil witch that wants their souls.
Unlike many of the imitators that followed in the years since Blair Witch‘s release, it’s a movie that knows fundamentally what is scary. It knows how to manipulate an audience without ever having to give away any easy answers. Even though it’s popular to dismiss, it’s an incredibly effective, mysterious work that knows how to get under your skin.
Never so vividly has a nightmare been captured on film. Many films are surreal or nightmarish in quality, but often they wind up as looking like shoddy David Lynch imitators. To truly capture a nightmare on film, the logic contained within the story has to be self-contained, but plausible, with surreality and reality intertwined seamlessly. Eyes of Fire is like a fever dream that you can’t escape from.