The Blair Witch Project Review (1999)

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Blair Witch Project Review (1999)

Horrorific content by penguin_pete on July 02nd, 2018 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Wilderness, Urban Legend, Witchcraft, Found Footage, Blair Witch Series

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It’s about three teenagers getting lost in the woods while purporting to make a documentary about a witch.

The Blair Witch Project was directed by Daniel Myrick  and Eduardo Sánchez   and stars Michael C. Williams, Heather Donahue  and Joshua Leonard.

The scariest movie of all time is a true story.

The Blair Witch Project Review

The Blair Witch Project stands today in Internet marketing history as the most successful viral marketing campaign of all time, so much so that it’s taught in marketing business course materials to this day. The actual budget should include the multi-million dollar Internet advertising campaign plus the cost of maintaining the website and planting an army of shills in online forums to spread rumors, becoming one of the first instances of “fake news” monetized. The box office sounds less impressive when you add in...

Wait. Wait a minute. There’s an actual movie in here. I forgot.

That’s easy to forget, because to this very day when I ask a modern fan what they loved about the Blair Witch project, the first thing they rave about is the marketing. They go on about marketing, marketing, marketing, and if I pin them down to the movie they barely have a fuzzy recollection of the general gist of it. Then they get defensive and say the marketing was part of a whole experience inseparable from the movie. Even Entertainment Weekly couldn’t stick to the movie in the review, but had to excuse it as "a manifestation of multimedia synergy.” That’s great if you’re into that, but that’s not how we play ball here.

So let’s expose the naked emperor by doing the unthinkable: Watch the actual movie. Disregard all the lies you’ve been fed about it being a true story. Forget the Hot Topic Tshirts and how popular they made you in high school. The Blair Witch Project is being called out to stand on its own two feet, solo, all by itself.

Too Much Project, Not Enough Witch

This movie is about three of the most irritating, whining slackers ever to almost grow up in the ‘90s, doing an inept job of shooting a documentary about a purported urban legend, in what appears to be a medium-sized park. They get lost through their own clearly admitted fault, fight with each other in a pansy passive-aggressive way, and then conclude by not showing us anything that was going on. Not in a “scarier because it’s left to the imagination” way, but in a “too lazy to give a flip” way.

Just to make sure we don’t allow the tedious failures of this movie to hide from the light of examination like the cockroaches they are, here’s a list of my top ten “favorite” moments from this film:

  • Shopping for groceries. Success rice. Mott’s. PowerBar. Marshmallows. Zooming in and out blurrily on the marshmallows.
  • Guy standing in front of chips says “That’s an old, old story.” Cut away before he can actually tell us the story. In fact, none of the interviews tell us the actual story, just conflicting stories about having heard “the story.” Sorry, Mario, your story is actually in another movie.
  • “Do we have any weed?” Remember, this was improvised, the crew was just literally that bored.
  • “I see a dirty bee-hind!” That needed to be said, didn’t it? It broke the minute of awkward silence watching everybody try to learn to walk with a backpack on.
  • “It’s starting to rain.” Shot of rain. They do this every time.
  • “What killed this dead mouse?” I dunno, is the Blair Witch a cat?
  • “It’s Heather, taking a piss!” Please keep us informed whether she wipes front-to-back.
  • “We’re not making a documentary about us getting lost, we’re making a documentary about a witch!” Please ignore the continued ninety minutes of squabbling about getting lost and no witch.
  • “Think of the joy of being in a really good film!” I’m thinking of something by Ed Wood about now.
  • We keep getting shown piles of rocks. That fits, because we’re watching The Blair Rockpile Project. “There are PILES of ROCKS outside our TENT!” Let’s hyperventilate about that.

“Lazy!” is the only word you need to explain anything in this movie. They were too lazy to get music for it. They were too lazy to create characters, they just call the actors by name - a situation which led to a lawsuit later on. They were too lazy to hire extras, they just stuck the camera in the face of random people on the street and lied about making a documentary. They produced a 35-page “script outline” which told the “actors” to “improvise,” but actually they were just too lazy to write a whole script or think up a whole story. Reading a story written by somebody else out of a book while you film random trees isn’t even a documentary, not to mention that no connection between the “Coffin Rock” segment and the Blair Witch is given. The shaky camera doesn’t make it more realistic, but what a coincidence, that’s also how you work the camera if you’re too lazy to bother learning how to film! And lest we forget, the ultimate unforgivable sin of sloth, trying to squirm out of bad storytelling by claiming it was all true.

A Movie That Spawned More Myths Than A Kennedy Assassination

In a world where conspiracy theories extend to the Earth being flat and the moon landing being fake, what hope does one review have to be the lone candle of reason in the wilderness of madness? The creators lied about everything around this movie so extensively that they made the myths impossible to extract from the reality. But let the record stand, none of this happened, the actors were not dead, the footage was not found, and the project conned both its audience and its crew alike.

It is also falsely credited with creating the “found footage” genre. That’s also a big fat lie; Cannibal Holocaust, Man Bites Dog, and The Last Broadcast are all clear prior art, not to mention that the old “only surviving record of events” bit is a shopworn trope going back to H.G. Wells, Edgar Allen Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft, just using diaries and journals instead of film.

As for the “cult following”? How can you trust one when a following was admittedly faked by the marketers themselves? There’s a common logical fallacy called the "Escalation of Commitment”. It’s where you get conned, and after being presented evidence of being conned, you just double down and get hostile in denial. Once being sold a lie, you tend to cling to it. It’s why religious cult members get brainwashed and have to be de-programmed, it’s why propaganda is such a damaging political weapon, it’s why a generation of Americans still insist they were subjected to Satanic abuse after the “repressed memories” fad was exposed as a fraud. And it is the only reason people still insist today that The Blair Witch Project is the scariest movie they’ve ever seen, when it’s actually less scary than the edgiest episode of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Why should we get outraged about it now? For one, there’s another sequel / remake / reboot (still too lazy to even make up their mind about that) that’s current. But the insult to the injury is the blasphemy of calling this “the scariest horror movie ever made” over and over, one paid-off reviewer after another cashing their check and raving lies at us. That is a slap in the face to the likes of Psycho, Alien, The Exorcist, The Shining, Suspiria, 28 Days Later, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream, Dracula, the list goes on and on. It is for the honest artists here insulted that we rage. You know what the greatest horror movies of all time have in common? Nobody has to go around defending and excusing them.

Modern audiences aren’t so easily conned, thank the heavens. The sequels got slimed, the Blair Witch reboot received lukewarm reception and a hundred imitators have been called out. “Shill” and “astroturf” are part of our online vocabulary now. But, just like with the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, this steaming pile of bullrocks came along at just the right moment in history to fool all of the people all of the time.

Worth Watching?

One quarter of a billion dollars was scammed from all of you, and that alone is the legacy of The Blair Witch Project. A lousy movie, but a monumental heist in broad daylight.

The Blair Witch Project Review (1999) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

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