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1999, Dir. Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez
86 min. Rated R.
Starring: Heather Donohue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams.

Review by Noel Wood

First off, a personal note. This is the first film I've reviewed in retarded mode in a year and a half, since the video store where the concept was born shut its doors. So if this sucks, bear with me, I'm just trying to be like Stella and get my groove back.

The Blair Witch Project. Great fuckin' movie. You heard it here. I don't care how much buzz and hype is going around, ther is no room for dissenting opinion in this matter. Blair Witch is amazing. If anyone tells you otherwise, they're wrong. There's no debating it. Why, you ask? Because this is the scariest movie I've seen since Kubrick's THE SHINING. Because the filmmaking style is so bold. Because you are literally part of the action.

If you read my essay ARTHOUSE MOVIES IN FRATHOUSE THEATERS, you know about the conditions that I saw the film in. People threw shit at the screen, talked during the whole thing, and basically booed the film. These people failed to grasp the whole intent of the film. I think I heard someone say "You didn't even get to see the witch!" as if that were a disappointing issue. I just wanted to grab the fucker's neck and yell "OF COURSE you didn't see the fucking witch! THAT WAS THE POINT!"

Here's some perspective for you. Blair witch was made for about $25,000. That's roughly one one-thousandth of what a typical Hollywood movie costs to make as a bare minimum. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER and THE HAUNTING probably cost way more, and neither one of them could hope to achieve what this film did so well. So with $25,000, it's not like we're going to see any amazing special effects. No computer generated images, no elaborate costumes or make-up jobs, no explosions, no elaborate sets. We get woods, three scared people, and a whole bunch of frightening sound effects. We don't HAVE to see the witch. We don't HAVE to have everything spoon-fed to us. It's a super-fucking-frightening experience because you are there, in those woods, seeing and hearing what the actors do.

Remember the old adage that man's greatest fear is the fear of the unknown? Well finally that idea is captured on film. After decades of being shoveled crappy horror movies where we are supposed to be frightened by actually seeing the antagonist, some people haven't grasped that that's not what's scary. The human psyche is a much more tender spot to fuck with than the eyes. I was nervous as shit after the trio realized they were lost, and I wan't even sure why. Being lost in the woods is a scary thing. Being in the woods at night is even scarier, especially when there's not a town for miles to provide any light. EVERY noise seems like an explosion. EVERYTHING is scary in that situation, so it's especially scary when there's some weird shit going on like piles of stones arranged around your tent and Christian Death symbols hanging from trees. You don't know if it's bears or crazy rednecks or child-murdering witches, and you don't care.

You know what really scared the shite out of me? The scenes where they turned the camera off and you only had the audio from the DAT. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I felt uneasy in a movie theater. I was actually releived when I realized that day had broken again. Yeah, I knew that the characters would all be dead by the end, but none of that mattered. I was there. I was in that tent. I was walking along with Heather and Mike and Josh. That's how powerful the use of POV in the film was. I wasn't just concerned for the lives of the characters, I was concerned for my own life.

And another beautiful thing about this film is that you can tell someone everything about it and not spoil it for them. It isn't even important that they all die. You know they're gonna bite the big chicken in the sky by the end. You can tell basically all the little details to everyone and not ruin the movie for them. It's the execution of the film that matters. It's all the little quirks involving the characters and their reactions to the environment. It's the way the two mediums of Hi-8 video and 16mm black and white are alternated to give you two different views of what's going on...the reality of the video camera transposed with the control aspect of the 16mm. There's SO much going for this film and the way it jars you emotionally that I could talk for hours.

And you know what's interesting? As great as this movie is in the theater, it's going to be even better on video, because the jerky-cam won't be quite as dramatic, and you won't have the comfort of 500 strangers nearby to lessen your fear. Some people didn't find it scary. Too bad. I pity them, because they are failing to grasp what true fear is all about. So for you people, have fun watching the latest slasher films with a singly named psycopath that keeps on magically rising from the dead. Keep on admiring Jennifer Love Hewitt and her predictable getways from the forces of evil. Enjoy the newest hack job by the creator of Dawson's Creek who needs Wes Craven to make anything amount to less than a 2 hour sack of steaming shit. That stuff's fun, but it's not scary. The only thing scary about it is that people will continue to pack theaters to see it.

As for me, I'm gonna wrap up and check out to involve myself in the backstory a bit more and suspend my disbelief a whole lot. And then I might just see THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT again.


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