16 October 2007

The Blair Witch Project

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.


vance said...

oh good. Ive always defended this movie. it was great. I saw a preview midnight showing (and while I knew about the concept and knew it was fake, my friends didn't and we were still all scared the bezeejesus out of us).

Michael Parsons said...

I agree. This has always been one of the scariest movies made. It is that primal fear of the unknown. Something that does not get made any more.

When it came out I could not sleep properly for weeks. It was like when you were a kid and were so scared of the monsters you would tuck your blanket and sheets around you so tight leaving one eye exposed, but still you were terrified. That is what this movie did.

I wish something like this would come around again.

Ed Hardy, Jr. said...

Yes it is strange what has happened to this film during its short lifespan. My own personal relationship with it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but that owes more to the early marketing campaign (and I mean early--a full 18 months before this film hit the theaters there was some fudged documentary footage on John Pierson's old IFC show.) It will be interesting to see how public taste regards BLAIR WITCH many years from now.