THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT - 1998
Haxan films / Artisian Entertainment
Rating: USA: R
Starring Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, Joshua Leonard.
Written & Directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick.
Every once in a while, comes a movie that makes you feel younger.
Wait, wait, wait, what the hell is that, the latest Meg Ryan / Robin Williams saccharine special?
Uh - uh.
When I say younger, I mean waaaaay younger, as in back to those not-so-enchanting
times when you were a mere toddler and terrified of the dark. Yet I feel
I should warn you right away: those expecting The Most Scary Experience
Of Their Lives will be sorely disappointed.
And they'll be wrong.
Many horror movies start with a bang, leaving the viewer no doubt that he's got the
right theater (and giving anyone who got lost in the multiplex a chance to get out before it's too late.) Think
for instance about that scary opening scene in SCREAM. No matter how many
laughs came in afterwards, you could never forget what kind of movie you
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT takes the opposite way. Indeed, the first half hour of the movie is surprisingly
funny. Anyone who missed the opening credit might be excused to think
they did stumble on the wrong show. After a while the laughter will become
increasingly nervous, and increasingly scarce.
Until it stops.
Which will be around 45 minutes into the movie. Projectionists should
be able to set their watches by it: "Is it ten already? I just heard
a collective "Gulp" in theater #2."
I will not tell you anything about the plot here. You probably already know enough
as it is, and if you don't, all the better. Watching THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT without any kind of expectation is the best way to enjoy it. In fact,
this movie works best seen:
a) as documentary / psychological drama
b) alone at night in a secluded house, or:
c) on your portable DVD player while camping out
Of course, whether you manage to fill the above requisites or not, you will still
be seeing a very good movie. But wait a minute, "documentary / psychological
Well, without giving anything away, imagine MTV's "The Real World",
if its protagonists had lived in HILL HOUSE.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT has quite a lot in common with Robert Wise's version of THE HAUNTING. Like the 1963
movie of Shirley Jackson's novel, it blurs the line between supernatural
events and subjective reactions. Putting the emphasis on characters psychology, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT suggests that horror can spring as much from the inside than the outside.
As the Jan De Bont big-budget remake of THE HAUNTING looms on the horizon, (making some already nervous, though not for the right reasons), it is nice to know that, thanks
to a small indie movie, America is about to rediscover subtlety.
Relying on faint sounds, off-screen events, always suggesting but almost never showing,
the movie unnerves you more than any Teen, Tits & Terrors fest whose
best thrills are provided by the soundtrack. And unlike those, after seeing THE BLAIR
WITCH PROJECT, it is very difficult to shake off the unsettling feeling that has crept
up on you.
Because this movie is sly.
It takes its time taking you where it wants you to go. It has all the
time in the world, you see. It waits until you're safely home and alone.
And that's where it will get you.
The worst horror is the one you can't identify. You knew it as a kid; back when
you feared the dark, where things you never had a clear idea of could
be waiting for you.
You thought you had outgrown this, didn't you?
BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and find out how wrong you were.
4 Shriek Girls
copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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