31 Days of Halloween 2015 – Day 2 – Who is the Blair Witch?

witch4The good thing about The Blair Witch Project isn’t necessarily the story, but I think it has good the atmosphere and the character development isn’t bad either.  Though the whole movie is a bunch of wandering around the woods, the human element keeps me interested.  The whole thing is just endless shots of trees otherwise.  It’s one scene in the woods after another, so I will admit that the variety is not all that dynamic.  This particular movie has not aged well with more contemporary audiences and I think it is definitely a product of media hype, but some of that criticism is unwarranted.  It’s a good movie.  Better than Ouija anyway.

witch2I can personally remember how crazy this movie was when it was first released.  Even MTV covered its phenomenal success.  Most of this was media driven, and every single news outlet I can remember had a cover story about this movie.  It is definitely overhyped, but it’s sorta justified thanks to good reviews from good critics I respect.  There are good parts and bad parts, like anything else.  Watching the characters slowly turn on each other and then try to rationalize their situation is great drama.

The movie is not even really that scary, except during the night scenes, which are only a fraction of the runtime.  There is some commentary subtly thrown in about the media and video, though it is only a small speech or two.  Then it’s back to wandering around.  I think the uniqueness of the movie has worn on us because of the success of reality shows and other reality-based movies, but this doesn’t take away Blair Witch’s importance to the whole movement.

witch1Probably the most effective scene in the whole movie is the final one, with Mike trying to find his friend Josh, while Heather is screeching loudly in the background.  It wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t get to know them.  They must have cut hundreds of hours of footage, because some of it looks spliced together over a good deal of time, though that only helps character development because there’s a lot of footage to pick from, which is probably what they thought when they did it.  The editing is really choppy on purpose, cutting away from almost everything in twenty to thirty seconds.  I’m not sure how anyone believed this was a real found footage film.

witch3Since it’s release, the internet has hated and loved The Blair Witch Project, even both at the same time.  A lot of websites back in the early 2000s spent endless amounts of time explaining it, like it was the second coming of 2001: A Space Odyssey or some other crap like that.  However, it really doesn’t need to be explained.  The movie lays everything out pretty well at the beginning, probably too well.

The one thing I will say about it is that it is deeply concerned with hysteria and media hype, to an almost self-parodying level.  Most people believe the trouble begins after the characters visit a cemetery in the woods, steal some trinkets and knock some rocks over, but that’s not the case.  The group began hearing voices in the woods way before they ever arrived at the cemetery and began messing around with the unknowns there.  This implies a more deeply engrained evil a la The Evil Dead.  Or maybe the woods are inhabited by a spirit who hates filmmakers.

witch5Whatever the evil is, the group seems to think it is embodied by a Witch.  She is accompanied by a series of children, who invade their campsite during one night and scare them into running away.  This could be the person described by the citizens of Burkittsville at the beginning of the movie, but it’s really left to the imagination of the audience to determine who or what the Blair Witch is.  The  history given at the beginning of the movie is really unnecessary, but I don’t mind, and I think it helps keep things from becoming too disjointed.

Of course, there’s always someone out there ready to shoot down something original.  This is what some stupid movie critics tried to do back in 1999 and the biggest complaint was that The Blair Witch was “too restrained” and “didn’t show anything”.  This is the same dumb complaint used against other more visceral horror movies.  Roger Ebert had a counterpoint to this complaint when he said that the noise in the dark is almost always scarier than what makes the noise.  He’s right.

Who is the Blair Witch? 

The Blair Witch is a fictional character created by the director and producers, but depicted realistically, as if out of a history book.  Her name was Elly Kedward and she lived in the 18th century.  She was banned from the town of Blair after some people accused her of witchcraft.  The townsfolk caught wind of her antics and quickly convicted her of some trumped up crimes.  They tortured and killed her in the woods.  Her ghost later returned and kidnapped a majority of the town’s children.  She never left, even after Blair became a ghost town.  Burkittsville was founded near the former site of Blair in the 19th century, many years later, but the legend of the Blair Witch endured.

witch6

 

31. Poltergeist (1982) vs Poltergeist (2015)
30. Blair Witch Project (1999) = This post
29. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
28. The Wicker Man (1973) vs The Wicker Man Remake
27. Tales from the Darkside, the Movie (1990)
26. Saw (2004)
25. The Prophecy (1995)
24. The Hills have Eyes (1977)
23. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
22. Creepshow (1982)
21. Phantasm (1979)
20. The Omen (1976) vs Damien: The Omen II
19. We Are Still Here (2015)
18. The Guest (2010)
17. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
15. The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
14. Army of Darkness (1992)
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
12. Friday the 13th Part III
11. Theater of Blood (1973)
10. House of Wax (1953) vs House of Wax (2005)
9. Hellraiser Inferno (2000)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
7. The Changeling (1980)
6. The Eye (2002)
5. The Hitcher (1986)
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
3. 28 Days Later (2003)
2. Suspiria (1977)
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This review will be published October 31st!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

31. Poltergeist (1982) vs Poltergeist (2015) – This post
30. Blair Witch Project (1999)
29. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 
28. The Wicker Man (1973) vs The Wicker Man Remake 
27. Tales from the Darkside, the Movie (1990) 
26. Saw (2004)
25. The Prophecy (1995) 
24. The Hills have Eyes (1977)
23. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
22. Creepshow (1982) 
21. Phantasm (1979) 
20. The Omen (1976) vs Damien: The Omen II
19. We Are Still Here (2015) 
18. The Guest (2010) 
17. Return of the Living Dead (1985) 
15. The House that Dripped Blood (1971) 
14. Army of Darkness (1992) 
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
12. Friday the 13th Part III
11. Theater of Blood (1973)
10. House of Wax (1953) vs House of Wax (2005)
9. Hellraiser Inferno (2000)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) 
7. The Changeling (1980) 
6. The Eye (2002)
5. The Hitcher (1986) 
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
3. 28 Days Later (2003)
2. Suspiria (1977)
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This review will be published October 31st!

 

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