On this day, 30 July, in 1999, The Blair Witch Project was released to the world. It is one of the greatest horror films ever made.
I realize that many people will disagree with me. And those people are wrong. I suspect that when the film was released, those people were part of the overwhelming number of viewers who quite liked it.
But something happened. And I watched that something. It’s summed up by a joke I remember a late-night comedian making. It went something like this, “A new extended cut of The Blair Witch Project has been released with an additional 5 minutes where nothing happens.”
Get it? It’s funny because nothing happens in the film! Except, of course, that lots happens in the film.
Highly Effective Horror
I still remember the visceral terror of the scene where they come out of their tent to piles of rocks around them. It’s true that nothing on screen happened. But it tells a story of this malevolent force that is constantly around them but never seen.
That’s also true of the stick figures scene:
I’ve watched the film again recently just to see if it really is as good as I remember. And even if you ignore all the horror elements of it, it’s still a fascinating look at three young people losing their minds.
It would be fascinating to look at the ratings of The Blair Witch Project over time. I think you would find that they go ever downward. That really should happen to all films because over time they lose their context and people can’t see what made them interesting.
Now with so many “found footage” films around, there’s a tendency to blame The Blair Witch Project. I think that’s a shame. For one thing, I rather like the found footage genre.
And for films with a limited budget, “found footage” can be a useful conceit. And I think that also has something to do with the push-back against the genre: big budgets don’t especially help.
Watch This Film
Regardless, if you haven’t seen it for a while, I recommend revisiting The Blair Witch Project with an open mind. You also might check out Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. It was savaged by the film critics but that was clearly just payback for the positive reviews of the first film.
The Blair Witch Project via Amazon under Fair Use.