Amateur production and box office success does not equal good
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
The Blair Witch Project was made on a budget of $60,000. It went on to gross $248 million at the box office, making it one of the most successful and profitable films ever. One of the original “found footage” movies, it tells the story of three students who enter the woods to search for the mysterious “Blair Witch.” They quickly become lost, panicked, and stalked by an unseen force. It’s widely considered one of the best horror movies of the last few decades.
Except that it isn’t. The Blair Witch Project isn’t scary or entertaining. It’s a boring, amateur, low-budget, disappointing horror flick. The Blair Witch Project may have been original and edgy when it first came out, but a successful viral marketing campaign and vague “it’s real” atmosphere (it’s not real) do not contribute to a lasting legacy. The movie’s plot is just people running around in the woods and freaking out. One of them goes missing. Strange symbols appear. They find the tooth of the one who goes missing in a mysterious box. One of them has an iconic mental breakdown in a close-up of her face.
At the disappointing end (spoiler alert!) they find an abandoned cabin. Inside is their missing friend against the wall—as well as some sort of evil presence. We don’t get to see exactly what it is. (A ghost? A murderer? The Blair Witch herself?). Instead, the girl screams, drops the camera, and we cut to black. All that build-up with no reveal at all. We don’t know what happened to these people, or what the Blair Witch looks like.
I first watched this movie when I was a kid, and I hated it even then. I’ve sat through it again since, and it’s still nauseating in more ways than one. Like with many found footage movies, “shaky cam” happens a lot. If you’re not getting motion sickness from the camera work, you’re getting confused, bored, and annoyed by the plot. Why all this build-up with no real climax? Why start with mythology at the beginning and then not explain it by the end?
The Blair Witch Project may have captured audiences in the ’90s before the genre was common, but today it’s forgettable, and just a bad example of the genre. Just because something was a pioneer, doesn’t mean it has to be good. If you’re going to watch horror movies for Halloween (see my recommendations in this issue and other October editions of the Other Press), be sure to skip this one.
A direct sequel entitled Blair Witch recently came out. Although highly anticipated, reviews show it was basically a re-hash of the first one, and just as unsatisfying in all the same ways. It’s no surprise this franchise follow-up failed twice (another sequel in 2000 was even worse), but it is disappointing.
Also—how did they run out of food and all other supplies, but they managed to keep the camera going the whole time? Come on.