Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Tom:
The Blair Witch Project,1999,USA
Director: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
Stars: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams
Michael Williams: They're people fucking with our heads.
Heather Donahue: But no one knows we're out here.
Michael Williams: Yeah, but have you ever seen 'Deliverance'?

Film #60 of the December Project

I am on the verge of finally witnessing 'Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2', but before doing so I decided to rewatch the original for the 7634th time. I have a peculiar history with this film, I first saw it a couple of years ago, and being young and dumb I had the same reaction everyone seems to have to it these days ''it was lame because we didn't see anything''. Every viewing since then, 'The Blair Witch Project' has continuously gown on me as I continue to find more that I love about the film, and after just completing yet another viewing, I can gladly say I would rank it amongst my favorite Horror films.

Three ambitious young filmmakers set out document the legend of the Blair Witch, an urban legend of a witch whom abducted small children. The three explore the woods where she once roamed, but succumb paranoia and terror as they cant seem to escape and are hunted by an unseen entity

I was only four years old when 'The Blair Witch Project' was in cinemas, I really wish I could back in time and be part of the phenomenon it had Caused, people believing it was all factual, I would have reveled in that. Unfortunately time travel has not been invented (yet) so I'm stuck watching the film on the small screen for the moment, which isn't a bad thing in itself.

The men responsible for the film and its success, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, whose execution of the events taking place on screen are impeccable. The two utilized a lot of dramatic manipulation when filming 'Blair Witch' and even had the three actors under the slight impression of realism. The film used the handheld footage way of filming before it became over utilized, and I would dare say it has used it better than any other film of its type. The way in which it is used here is so involving, its as if we the audience where also a character on screen, were part of these events, Other films like 'Paranormal Activity' feel a little more pedestrian. The transitions between the black & white to the colored camera were really well done and gives the audience two different points of view.

I have always absolutely loved the interview footage with the townspeople at the beginning of the film, it sets the scene and the mood of the paranoia to come later on, and surrounds the audiences and characters with population before throwing us out into the woods alone. The location used in the film is its greatest asset, the woods are a scary place and the one depicted in the film emphasizes that greatly, The way in which the film has aged has only added to its effect.

The film is still and unnerving, disturbing and haunting experience. Its amazing how much fear is built up through simple dialogue and a few rumblings in the bush. The way in which the suspense  progressively builds up is a thing of beauty. The climax in the abandoned house, with both Mike and Heather filming, giving us that contrast of black & white and color is brilliant, the scene which shows the children's hand prints on the wall still irks me. The very final scene is great, while I didn't like it the first time, I have grown to appreciate Myrick and  Sánchez's use of simplicity and ambiguity, it is so effective and leads to a scary final image.

The actors Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams are all so convincing and there performances are so real throughout the film,They are all highly sympathectic people and we support them the entire way. Myrick and Sánchez's manipulation must have worked wonders.

'The Blair Witch Project' is the little film that became a phenomenon, the highest grossing Independent film of all time. I have grown to love this film, its a brilliantly executed,haunting and creepy experience that I can see myself continuously going back to for many years. A classic!

****

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