Ian Crow’s Film Masterclass #6 – The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Film masterclass is back! After a short period of time from releasing my next addition to my favourite movies of all-time, I feel the time is right to release my thoughts on 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. With the sequel to the movie coming imminently, I will tell you why The Blair Witch Project is still one of the scariest movies ever made. Let’s travel all the way back to 1993, director Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick are watching Paranormal documentaries and are discussing that they think that they are a whole lot scarier than any movies that they have seen. A lightbulb appeared above the young film makers heads as they decide to develop a film based on the paranormal in the format or a paranormal documentary. After years of hard work on creating a story and an outline on how to shoot the movie, they were ready. The eventual results that came out were bigger than anything they were expecting. The release of The Blair Witch Project stunned audiences and critics alike. Not only because what they was seeing was at the time revolutionary and damn right creepy, but people actually thought this was real! The directors worked extremely hard to make this as authentic as possible. They made fake news reels, a website showing missing posters for the actors in the film and fake interviews, too. The effect it had and still has to this day on people is one of the main reasons why this is one of my favourite films of all time.

I remember watching this movie way back, when I definitely wasn’t old enough to watch it. To say I was petrified is an extreme understatement. I hadn’t seen anything like it ever in my life. I felt like the movie was potentially real at the time and watching the end of the movie made me question what I thought happened. The finale stuns and chills me to this day, what exactly happens to our three friends in that creepy house? The answer: We don’t bloody know! And honestly, that’s probably the best thing. Not knowing what happens to our three characters is pulsating and terrifying. We follow these characters from the get go as they interview locals about the Blair Witch legend and are warned multiple times not to enter the woods. But being typical teenagers/young adults, they decide not to listen to their elders and do it anyway. After entering the woods and finding out very quickly that they are extremely lost, terror sinks in. Stick figures, cairns and the sound of snapping twigs plague our three characters throughout the movie. And do you know the greatest thing about this film? It manages to scare the living hell out of you, without actually seeing one single horrifying or scary thing whatsoever. Now, some people might think this is terrible. For me, If I’ve been scared to the grit of my bones and feel sick to my stomach knowing that I haven’t seen anything scary, makes me think that it’s a great movie.

The Blair Witch Project manages to grab you instantly, its keep you interested on the screen, and you feel like you’re the fourth person in the group. You cannot hide, you cannot run and ultimately, you know that your future is uncertain. Not one sighting of the supposed witch in sight, The Blair Witch Project makes for an interesting debate as well. Maybe there is no witch at all, they may have been killed off by the locals, or it could have been one of them? Personally, I love the fact that they have all been taken out by this entity or witch in this grotesque, shit scary house in the middle of the woods. What makes the film so effective though is the brilliant camerawork. The film draws you in with its close camerawork. Probably one of the first examples of found footage that I had seen, I honestly can’t think of another found footage movie out there that’s better than this. Especially taking into account how effective it is.

The Blair Witch Project is undoubtedly one of the greatest horror movies ever made. Forever it will live on in the memory of a lot of people that have most likely been scarred for life after watching the movie. It’s an enthralling rollercoaster ride but an incredibly shit scary one too. Even though I know exactly what happens, I still get that fear factor while watching it. You know you’ve made a good horror movie when a lot of people thought that it was real. For me, its outstanding film making, especially due to the fact that it was made on an extremely low budget consisted of only three actors and it scared the living hell of every single person who watched it, including myself on numerous occasions.

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