Film Review - Blair Witch Project

figure 1. The Blair Witch Project Film Poster

Known as one of the first of it's kind, the Blair Witch Project made strides with what was capable with film, and not just that, but how successful it was.  "The movie is like a celebration of rock-bottom production values--of how it doesn't take bells and whistles to scare us." (Ebert, 1999) With a budget of only $22,000 it eventually went on to make $248 million in the box office it has been romanticized as one of the first "indie" movies made by three young filmmakers.

Advertised like a real occurrence the Blair Witch Project gained massive publicity as viewers of the film tried to visit the small town Burkittsville where it was shot. The attention, mostly uninvited was one of the large effects of this film even though a lot of the BWP wasn't actually shot in Burkittsville, which shows how many people really did buy into it.

Believably was key and with only three main actors and no actual script to read from for dialogue close to all of it was improvised. The arguing and crying through-ought BWP possibly some of the most strenuous, were backed up by a script outline . - It must be said that whilst there was more than enough improvisation this was only to enhance the realness; as BWP behind the scenes was full of control. Three days to shoot hours of footage, eight months to edit it all down. The mastery came from the editing and never do you not know what's going on as the strong consistency and pacing from an ultimately simple plotline plays out. Whilst each night passes, the Blair Witch, supposedly, gets closer to them and the events that follow worsen significantly.

The BWP could have stopped at having three very good friends go into a forest and to their dismay, the Blair Witch gets them. However if this was the case, and the three good friends didn't argue, get stressed or upset at eachother not even once then we would be looking at a much longer-feeling film. Day scenes riddled with arguments and silly hissyfits brought on by being lost not only shorten BWP up, but enhance the bursts of action at night when they happen. The day scenes are preparation for the night; although one of the most frustrating things with the three filmmakers in the forest is that there is no preparation. They are too busy arguing coupled with being exhausted to make much progress with trying to get out the forest, instead sitting down having cigarettes. Constantly switching between working together for the sake of getting out the forest, to more towards the night when hysteria breaks loose. Together they work greatly. "a most inventive departure from standard horror fare, is frightening only insofar as its characters' panic seems real. Everything else is left to the imagination." (Maslin, 1999)

It is a film that since it's release in 1999 has remained a landmark of horror films for being low-fi, with a low budget to high boxoffice turnover unique to the horror genre. The handy-cam style of shooting is still popular today with films such as Paranormal Activity (2007) going down the same route of trying to recreate a believable event captured on video. These type of films are much more personal than usual Hollywood films and their compositionally strong shots but with this comes a delicate nature too. The Blair Witch Project had a sequel, received extremely poorly compared to the first, and this goes for Paranormal Activity as well, with each film after it getting predominantly worse and worse. "At a time when digital techniques can show us almost anything, "The Blair Witch Project" is a reminder that what really scares us is the stuff we can't see."(Ebert, 1999) Overall, they are hit or miss one offs that if you buy into the charade becomes hard-hitting; but if you choose not to will seem dull at the very least.

Illustration List:

Sánchez, E. and Myrick, D. (1999). The Blair Witch Project Film Poster. [image] Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2015].


Ebert, R. (1999). The Blair Witch Project Movie Review (1999) | Roger Ebert. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2015].

Maslin, J. (1999). Movie Review - The Blair Witch Project - FILM REVIEW; Vanished in the Woods, Where Panic Meets Imagination - [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2015].

1 comment:

  1. Another thoughtful review Ella - just remember to italicise all your quotes.. you forgot the one at the end :)