The Blair Witch Project (Blu-ray)
- Reviewed by: joecooler2u
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Current Rating 8/10 | 1 Votes
Set in 1994, three film students travel to the woods of Maryland to investigate an urban legend, and find themselves terrified to the core. The friends - Heather, Josh and Mike - never return from the Black Hills Forest, and one year later their missing footage is found and edited together to tell the story of the amateur filmmakers’ terrifying two-day hike.
One of the first movies to become a phenomenon via the internet, The Blair Witch Project took off to overcome Halloween as the highest grossing Horror Independent film of all-time and has paved the way for the film that succeeded it, Paranormal Activity as an internet phenomenon and highest grossing Independent film given it‘s meager budget. What all three films have in common is that they are all terrifyingly spooky and play off of a spooky atmosphere that lets your imagination become a part of the film. Blair Witch’ is a different film to each of its viewers. Some don’t like it, usually because they lack the imagination needed to engage the film.
It’s hard to believe that a lot of people were fooled by the storyline into believing this was a true story. I never got that and wasn’t fooled, despite getting caught up in the hype of the film through its website myself. I can understand how someone would be fooled because of its realistic portrayal of three amateur filmmakers going off into the woods to investigate an urban legend. Sounds real, right? Sounds like it had to happen somewhere, sometime and some of you probably heard of this happening to someone around where you live. That’s the power of urban legend and most times we don’t know where these kinds of stories originate from and how they grow so far so fast.
Visually the Blu-ray is stunning with it’s level of detail when the three amateur student filmmakers are in the woods. You can see every twig, rock and leaf as well as every blade of grass. The shaky cam that was intended brings on a bit of motion sickness, which it did for me and I’ve never experienced it before watching a film, including 3D viewings. I can also say with all confidence that I didn’t have this reaction watching on DVD which I did at least a handful of times. Maybe the high definition of this release brings on the effect, or maybe it’s just me. I can’t tell which it is.
The film really doesn’t take off until it starts getting spooky the first night in the woods. The early interviews with members of the town were interesting and the one woman was eerie, but it isn’t until the isolation sets in that the film truly becomes horrific. If you don’t get that feeling, then maybe you’ve never been in the woods unsure of where you are at. I can relate to being lost in the woods because I’ve been there and done that in my youth. Exploring the woods can be fun, until you worry about where the heck you’re at or see an animal torn apart and wonder what the hell did that?
A lot of the film’s success played off of fans not knowing if it was real or not. Though the film never states “Based on True Events” or anything of the kind. Also being a pioneer in internet marketing through it’s inclusive website which told just enough to keep fans wanting more, a lot more. The marketing elsewhere was a phenomenon in it’s own right.
The acting is slightly above standard given the film’s extremely low budget and the lack of need on the actor’s parts to show range in their performances. Playing amateur filmmakers didn’t require a vast range on the actors’ behalf, they were basically playing themselves in name and to a lesser degree in character. Though what they do get right is playing to the mood needed for each scene and the progression of desperation, fear and paranoia needed as the film progressed. Heather Donahue (The Morgue, Boys and Girls) is the standout here as hers is often the character through which the audience is supposed to relate. Though she does get very tiring, especially in repeat viewings, when you consider all the screaming and F-bombs dropped by her and Mike & Joshua.
Direction by Daniel Myrick worked for its time, but holds up less than some other films made to last. Given the lack of a story beyond the Blair Witch legend and the characters being lost in the woods, Myrick needed to have the actors give in to base emotions of fear of being lost and events that take place in the woods and paranoia that something is stalking them. Myrick can’t be blamed for the film’s lack of holding up over time and repeat viewings. That’s just how the film worked out.
Ultimately, The Blair Witch Project is a bit of history, being a pioneer in internet marketing for films and keeping fans guessing as to whether the story was true or not. It doesn’t hold up as well as I thought it would, but it’s still a good horror film. Come with your imagination or don’t watch this. It should be a try before you buy if you have yet to see this because it’s just not for everyone. Hardcore horror fans should love it and if you’ve already seen it the Blu-ray release isn’t bad. Not as great as I thought it would be in high definition it is still a vast improvement on the DVD release though lacking somewhat in extras, not really offering anything new as far as extras go and even the deleted ending scenes are not too different from what was in the original ending. I recommend this as a rental for newcomers, just in case this isn’t for you, and a buy for those who already like it.
Special Features -
- Four never-before-seen alternate endings
- Discovered Footage (Theories of the Blair Witch)
- Audio commentary with Directors Daniel Myrick and Ed Sanchez and Producers Robin Cowie, Mike Monello and Gregg Hale
- The Blair Witch Legacy Featurette
- Theatrical Teaser and Trailers
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