The Blair Witch Project (1999)

(In theaters, July 1999) This didn’t work for me. Widely over-hyped as being one of the scariest movies ever made, this ultra-low-budget film is a pretty good illustration of how a clever premise can be far more intriguing than the end result. (It’s also a study in how originality and web-savvy marketing can lend itself to a boffo opening-weekend promotional push.) Unfortunately, as I’ve lamented elsewhere, originality must not be confused with entertainment and artistic merit. The Blair Witch Project is, all things considered, a fairly ordinary film that quits before getting really unnerving. (What would I have considered really unnerving? How about the true self-destruction of the trio without resort to artificial means like the witch?) The constant shaking of the handheld camera footage is immensely distracting in theatres. Charges that “this movie stimulate your imagination, you barbarian” are laughable, considering that written horror has been doing that for… oh… more than a hundred years now. While I won’t deny the effect of The Blair Witch Project on many viewers (especially those gullible enough to believe it’s “a true story”), I simply couldn’t muster any lasting feeling about it; I slept well that night. For me, the scariest thing about this film is the prospect of endless rip-offs…

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