Friday, October 7, 2011

Movie Review: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

I just watched this not an hour ago, and I already think it is one of the creepiest films ever made. I don't spook easily, but this will definitely have me thinking about things. It cost virtually nothing to make but does a great job conveying psychological terror without the use of violence, jump-scares, or CGI.

It was shot as a "student film" - hand-held camcorder and everything - a mockumentary if you will. Three college students in (Maryland, was it?) go out to hike in the nearby wooded hills one weekend to explore an old legend about the Blair Witch, who supposedly murdered several children in her magical rites. (If you dare watch, then pay attention to what the townspeople say: it comes back later in the movie.) The students, two men and a woman, soon become lost in the woods, unintentionally going in circles and unable to escape. Every morning they find something outside their tent - the sign of the Blair Witch, piles of rocks to mark children's graves, etc. It gets worse and worse for the students and they begin to lose their minds. I won't spoil the ending, but holy crap, is it morbid.
I loved this movie. It proves that one does not need a gory, porn-filled flick to be scared (and I don't consider those true horror anyway). It never shows very much, just subtle hints and mental suspense accompanied by an awesome score, which, while not quite musical - more just sounds - is still quite eerie. The characters seem very real, and indeed the filmmakers claimed it was real until the main lady was seen on a Steak 'n' Shake ad somewhere on a highway billboard. But real or no, this movie will stick with one for a while.

Final grade: A

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