The Blair Witch Project
Dir: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez
Star: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1999
Format: DVD R2

In October of 1994. Three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary...
A year later their footage was found.

Three student film makers set off to make a documentary for college about a local legend known as the "Blair Witch" for an assignment. The film makers led by Heather Donahue interview local residents about the mysterious legend. The interviews are caught on 16mm camera by Heather's friend and fellow student Josh Leonard and the sound recorded by fellow student Mike Williams. After interviewing several members of the local populous the intrepid film makers set off into the Burkittsville woods to film the area of the legend. As the trio head deeper into the woods along the "trail" of the myth, strange things soon start to happen.....

Credit to Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez because they have written and "directed" what is basically a pretty good film. The shooting of the film on 16mm and video tape is a novel approach and offers an interesting perspective as the film attempts to entice you into the story. The background story to the film is quite clever and surprisingly works rather well, being one of the films strong points as some viewers still ponder the reality of the "Blair Witch".

Despite the film intentionally having the appearance of a "student film" the general direction is quite poor. The editing of the film which was undertaken by the real filmmakers, namely Michael Oblowitz and Eduardo Sánchez is quite good and manages to pace the film reasonably well all things considered and is in keeping with the films intended format. Unfortunately the screen is over exposed to grainy darkness which may be migrain inducing as the viewer strains to concentrate on the screen in case they miss anything (another of the pitfalls of shooting in 16mm). I have to admit that I did find the film a little monotenous and at times it is hard going, which was a pity as I really wanted to enjoy this film. Some of the jittery camera work can be rather nauseating and some of the cast become quite annoying and by the end of the film you will be sick and tired of hearing the name "Josh".

Personally this film just didn't "gel" or work for me, despite the cleverly orchestrated and authentic look and feel. It just wasn't particuarly interesting or compelling and certainly not as "scary" as I had been led to believe. At times the film can be quite atmospheric and all too briefly a little creepy but it just can't carry it further. It can be a little tiresome watching these three morons, sorry...student filmmakers hiking, whinging, talking cobblers and getting scared now and again (well, at least the film scares someone). The nocturnal scenes rely heavily on atmosphere so it is a pity that they are lacking an oppressive and suspenseful atmosphere which would have made them really stand out. The daytime ramblings quickly become tedious and leave the viewer quite bored and disinterested with their predicament permitting very little scope to build tension affording the film a quite bland feel up until the last 20 minutes or so.

Despite this film allegedly heralding the birth of a new breed of horror movie, I'm afraid it doesn't. Not by a long shot, but this isn't a bad film and unfortunately it's not the scary movie that it is made out to be either. In fact to be quite honest this film doesn't do anything particuarly constructive or ground breakingly innovative for the genre. There are possibly one or two moments which might make you "jump" but for me it was lacking the all important quality of gripping the viewer. I sat through this film perhaps even endured it, somewhat unphased and convinced of the films outcome without fast forwarding to the end or any prior knowledge gleaned from "spoilers". After all of the hype surrounding this film and the strange mythology the filmmakers created around the "legend" of the Blair Witch, I had expected something that extra special. I had seen reviews by peers which awarded this film accolades such as the "scariest film you'll ever see" and "It will scare you witless". Unfortunately, I didn't find any of these statements warranted. Perhaps for some people, probably of a nervous disposition camping in the woods is truly terrifying, or maybe it was the thought of being outside in the darknesss that scared them, either way they are probably timid "townies" who still sleep with the light on.

The concept is nothing new and the story does have some good attributes, unfortunately the film needs more than this. The idea of the film revolving around these three "filmmakers" who are chasing a myth is good but just poorly executed leaving a film far removed from the hackle rising horror film that the viewers expect. Nonetheless a good film overrall but very dissappointing.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 4.3 Fullscreen Artistically shot on video tape and 16mm - naturally quality is often poor
Audio Dolby Surround 2.0 Good quality and quite atmospheric
Features Cool & creepy animated menus
Series of "Fear Sections" - mini commentaries concerning fear by "experts"
Commentary track by directors Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez and Producer
Set of 3 original theatrical trailers
Documentary "The Curse Blair Witch Legacy"
Interesting text based informative "The Blair Witch Legacy"
Series of TV spots
Tent based "Newly discovered footage"
Directors interviews
Series of cast & crew filmographies
Verdict A good disc with plenty of well assembled extras.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home