By Nora Hogan
“The Blair Witch Project” is regarded as one of the scariest movies ever produced. Every October, thousands, if not millions, watch this movie to receive a proper scare during the Halloween season. This year, I watched “Blair Witch” for the first time. Unfortunately, the film did not live up to my expectations. To put it simply, I wasn’t scared. Sure, I was creeped out occasionally, but not once did I scream or clutch my companion sitting next to me in fear.
One of my main issues with the film it’s a slow burn. The horrifying parts of the film do not happen essentially until the very end. I sat there, watching the three characters get more and more lost in the woods for a literal hour. To be honest, I got bored. I had hoped that the makers would throw in a jump scare or two to keep me entertained at least, but alas, they did not. Instead, all they added were some mild “psychological thriller” type symbols and relics that the characters found in the woods. Unfortunately, these elements really did not do much to scare me thoroughly.
Another issue I have is that all of the action in the film happens off-screen. I understand that the whole premise of the movie is that it’s “found footage.” However, I could have done without 75 percent of the forest floor footage and the close-ups of Heather’s face. Even when the Blair Witch finally arrives to kill the three students, the viewer never sees her or any of the damage and carnage she causes. The most we ever directly see is Josh’s teeth Heather finds in the woods, the handprints on the walls, and Michael, clearly possessed, standing in the corner at the abandoned farmhouse at the end. Probably the only terrifying thing about the indirect nature of the movie is Josh’s kidnapping and subsequent torture by the Blair Witch. His screaming definitely sent a shiver down my spine.
If I had viewed this film in 1999, when it was released, I probably would have bought into the story more. The film’s makers did an excellent job marketing this film in the early internet age by creating an entire fake website dedicated to the three young documentary makers’ disappearance in the movie. They made fake articles, police reports, newspaper clippings, and interviews that went viral on the internet. When moviegoers in 1999 went to the theaters to see the film, they thought that what they were watching was a legitimate documentary with real found footage. There will simply never be another movie produced like this again, thanks to the plethora of fake news we are exposed to daily and the ability to fact-check everything using the modern internet.
In comparison to viewers in 1999, I went into this movie, already knowing that it is fiction. Today, unless you pay very close attention to the plot and buy into the story, you aren’t going to be scared by this movie. Regardless of my opinion of “The Blair Witch Project,” I encourage you to watch this film. For self-proclaimed film buffs like myself, “Blair Witch” is an important movie to watch to understand the evolution of horror movies. This movie created the entire “found footage” subgenre of horror. If you plan on watching this movie in the near future, I definitely recommend watching it in the dark. If you can, try watching it in someone’s backyard on an outdoor projector. Happy viewing and happy Halloween!