The Blair Witch Project
Drive-In Massacre - wrote on 11/02/11
Sometimes when something is too popular, the cynics think it's crap. Blair Witch is not just one of the most referenced and discussed horror films in recent year, it is one of the most referenced films, regardless of genre, in the history of the art. Scream can suck it, THIS is the quintessential horror film of the 1990s. I had said that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was highly influential on the previous ten years of horror films, but where you would see traces of it all over the place, there is an entire sub-genre of films made entirely in the shadow of the Blair Witch, (and even films before it) that can not even be talked about unless there is some mention of the title. Cloverfield, Rec., Paranormal Activity, Poughkeepsie Tapes, Last Broadcast, , Zero Day, you name it...I'm sure if you look up reviews for any of those titles you'll be hard-pressed to find one that doesn't at least have the title "Blair Witch" mentioned in it.
The film is completely brilliant. Trust me, I've seen a lot of films similar to this, and if it was as bad as people wanted to make believe it is, Artisan wouldn't have released extremely low-budget indie horror film with such a humongous and insane ad campaign. They could have released straight to video, or not accept it at all. They knew the damn thing worked. And it worked really well.
Blair Witch is in that pantheon of horror films that is truly and brutally terrifying, and it's not a fun scare by any means. You go in and watch Paranormal Activity, yes you get pretty friggin' scared in parts (myself included) and you might even bring it home with you after the movie is all said and done, but still it's a roller-coaster ride of a movie, you're laughing and jumping around and enjoying the excitement. You do not get that at all in Blair Witch, it's a serious, very bleak, and inherently chilling film, just like the best of them: Exorcist, Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, Shining, etc. The acting and simple progression of suspence is what makes it work, again I know that these movies aren't as easy as they look to make, the 3 actors who play the film's protagonists could make or break the film, and they make it entirely convincing and authentic and, with each viewing I forget that it isn't real. It's strange I didn't find it scary at all when I was 12, but on my 7th or 8th viewing last year, I found myself getting into a ball and hiding my face, and I almost never get scared by films, let alone on a 7th or 8th viewing.
It's even scarier for how easy it is to relate to, I go in the woods a lot, I obviously shoot movies all the time, and the characters are very close to the people I would hang out with (much more than the preppy couple in Paranormal Activity). Everything is done so, so simply that by the time you finally see a cabin at the end of the film it just makes you shit yourself. Genius movie. I hate how popular it is and yet still underrated.