April 19, 2016

Cutting Edges: The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project Review
The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 horror film, directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick. It is about 3 student who go into the woods to explore and make a documentary about the tale of the ‘Blair Witch’.
Figure 1: Movie Poster
The only cameras in the film are handheld cameras, the view switches between the shaky small handheld and a more steady, bigger black and white camera. The use of this ‘found footage’ technique has been repeated countlessly in the horror genre since the release of this film, because of the personal feel it gives the audience. It is more personal to an audience to see it this way because it is more real, and is more scary and memorable as it seems as if it could happen to you, as it seems like we are watching real life. “The thought that Blair Witch Project just might be real makes it much scarier than any of the teen horror flicks that have stumbled along in recent years.”(Lemire, 2013). Lemire says that the reality of the film makes it scarier than more recent horror films which are all about the visual horrors and jumpscares. The Blair Witch Project doesn’t rely on any of that to be scary, and is a part of why it is so successful.

Adding to the reality, the film starts with what looks like real life interviews with town’s people, and it makes the audience become more immersed in the story and believe it, like a documentary. As Bernard says in this quote, “The very crudeness of the film stock and technique contribute mightily to the feeling that things are out of control, disoriented and possibly subject to unnatural laws.” (Bernard 2014), the use of the handheld camera makes us feel as they are feeling, out of control and a lack of orientation. The way the camera moves so frantically makes us feel a bit like we are experiencing what they are experiencing, for example when they are running, we do not see static shots of people running, we are the camera in their hand, seeing blurred trees and hard breathing. One of the characters when looking through the small handheld camera, says that watching through it brings a sense of a filtered reality, as if you were watching something instead of being there, and not having to face what’s happening.
Figure 2: Movie Still
One of most successful points of the film is that there is a lack of any visual horror. It is unsettling to watch as we are always trying to make shapes out of what we are shown, and we build up an expectation that the ‘witch’ will be revealed. It builds up stress and tension, and makes it harder to watch as the film goes on, although visually the audience is given nothing. We are given sounds instead of visual horror, we hear screaming and strange noises, and we as the audience find ourselves straining to look out for strange sounds. All the fear is brought on by our imaginations and our fears. As Tatara says, “Whenever night falls, the movie takes off, but in a slow creep, with all your childhood fears of the dark suddenly revealing themselves as absolutely reasonable.” (Tamara, 2014), our irrational childhood fears of ghosts and the dark take over, and our imagination runs wild, making up for the lack of visual fear.
The characters contribute to uneasy feeling we get throughout the film, they are strong headed, argumentative people, who all want to be in control. By the end of the film when these people crack and are terrified, it is scary for the audience as such strong characters with big personalities can be taken down by something we can never see.
Figure 3: Movie Still


Edition.cnn.com. (2016). CNN - Review: 'Blair Witch' not just a walk in the woods - July 22, 1999. [online] Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/Movies/9907/22/review.blairwitch/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2016].
Filmschoolrejects.com. (2016). [online] Available at: http://filmschoolrejects.com/images/The-Blair-Witch-Project.jpg [Accessed 19 Apr. 2016].
Ia.media-imdb.com. (2016). [online] Available at: http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMTg0NjMyNTY4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTMxOTY4._V1_SX640_SY720_.jpg [Accessed 19 Apr. 2016].
Images.mentalfloss.com. (2016). [online] Available at: http://images.mentalfloss.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_640x430/public/blair_large.jpg [Accessed 19 Apr. 2016].
Nydailynews.com. (2016). [online] Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/nydn-features/blair-witch-project-new-twist-horror-1999-review-article-1.848857 [Accessed 19 Apr. 2016].
Rottentomatoes.com. (2016). The Blair Witch Project. [online] Available at: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/blair_witch_project/ [Accessed 19 Apr. 2016].

1 comment:

  1. Interesting :)
    Couple of things - your first image does not seem to have uploaded...
    Secondly, can you sort out you bibliography so that the image references are kept separate please? So, have heading 'Bibliography' for the quote sources, and a heading 'Illustrations' or 'Images' for the rest. You should be thinking about using some actual books for your research too, rather than just using online sources- by next year this will become much more important :)