Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Essentials- "The Blair Witch Project" (1999)

The Essentials- #78
The Blair Witch Project
By now, you are probably sick of found footage movies. You are all sick of hearing about them, sick them getting made, and sick of people paying for ticket after ticket which constantly reminds Hollywood to "keep up the good work." There is a reason for all of this madness, and that reason is "The Blair Witch Project." It is a movie that changed the horror landscape forever, literally there are several found footage movies made every year. While "The Blair Witch Project" wasn't the first found footage movie, it was the film that made pushed the genre into mainstream acceptance.
How did the movie accomplish this and others did not. For one, "The Blair Witch Project" was marketed extremely well. I hope marketing classes at college study the journey of this little movie, so that future marketers came copy that success. Everybody wanted to see the movie before it was even out. Once the movie hit, everybody believed with all of their hearts that what they had just seen was true. I know people still today that are completely convinced that "The Blair Witch Project" is true. That is how much power the film had on the viewer, and in a world before the found footage bubble burst, it had long-lasting effects.
The film's plot is pretty self-explanatory, three teenagers are making a documentary about The Blair Witch of Burkittsville, Maryland, which has been an urban legend figure more than anything. They venture off into the woods to shoot where the witch had been and disappear. A few years later, the footage was found and that makes up the movie. Most found footage movies copy this exact template these days, which is a testament to just how much influence this little film still holds today. The film is headlined by Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Lenard all of whom play fictional versions of themselves. One reason why this film has been so successful is the glorious acting by these three individuals. They create three believably human people, as if they are caught in an extraordinary situation rather than actors who memorized a script.
"The Blair Witch Project" also benefits from creating unique scares. The film has this disorienting feel to it and sometimes, it is very easy to lose track of times. In a world where "slasher films" and "torture porn" were reigning supreme, "The Blair Witch Project" tried something new. They tried creating a movie based on mood and atmosphere. They created a film where your mind plays tricks on you more times that not. They created a film with no gore or much violence, and not many boo-scares for that matter. Everything is based on the slow creepiness that builds and builds and builds until you feel as if you will have a heart attack.
"The Blair Witch Project" was one of the most successful films of our time and it still holds up nicely today. Check out if you haven't already.

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