You know what film gets a bad rap? The Blair Witch Project.
I was reading the Willies list over at Shoot the Projectionist and was pleasantly surprised to find it listed among the finalist. The reason for this has to do with the strange critical trajectory the film has followed.
When it came out, people couldn't get enough of it. It became one of the highest grossing independent films of all time and became an important film in the history of Sundance, ranking among films like sex, lies, and videotape. A few years on, however, it became sort of a critical punching bag for people to label 'one of the worst movies ever made'. Now, it seems, the tide seems to be turning in the film's favor yet again.
And rightfully so. People tend to complain about the camera work or that nothing much happens for a great deal of the running time, but they forget all the tension building that goes on. The filmmakers didn't need to show the witch at all to make us afraid of her. This is horror filmmaking as it used to be, before watching Heather Matarazzo get carved up while hanging from the ceiling naked passed for effective horror filmmaking.
This is all well and good, but what really endears this movie to me is the ending in which a single figure in a corner and the screams of the main character are still enough to send goosebumps up my arm, even seen out of context.