I appreciate what Blair Witch was trying to do, but it failed.

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by Ford W Maverick, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    Just posted this on IMDB and thought I'd post it here too. Enjoy!


    The Blair Witch Project was ambitious, it was innovative, and it was one of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life.

    Seriously, I watched the promo-special for it that they aired on the Sci-Fi Channel and I was excited because it looked like a great movie, so I watched it with optimistically and I was horribly let down.

    Let that sink in. I watched what was basically an extended movie trailer that made me interested enough to watch the movie and the movie was less entertaining that the trailer.

    Problem #1: In any horror/suspense movie there has to be at least one character that you care about. If you don't want to see at least one of the characters come out of the situation alive then it's just boring. The characters in Blair Witch are annoying idiots. I had more emotional attachment to the witch who *SPOILER ALERT* you never see on camera. Honestly, I couldn't wait for these idiots to die and the credits to roll.

    Problem #2: Half of it was Black and White. "Why is this a problem?" you ask? "Clerks was in Black and White and it was good!" you say? Here's the thing, Black & White is ok if it either plays into the plot somehow, like it's filmed like and made to look like an old movie or if the plot of the movie lends itself to B&W or if it's the kind of movie where it just doesn't matter (like Clerks). What we have in Blair Witch is a trio of film students who apparently have the last B&W camera in existence. Seriously, when did they quit making B&W cameras? I'm pretty * sure they don't issue them at film school. At least not any that I'd pay the tuition for.

    I know it was a low budget film and I know it was a quick visual cue so you knew who's camera you were looking through, but it really pulled me out of the movie. I know, it's a petty gripe, but I'd have ignored it if I was watching a movie I was enjoying. Sadly, I was not.

    Problem #3 (SPOILER): There was no Witch. Say all you want about it being like Jaws because it's scarier when you can't see the danger, but here's what proponents of this movie don't understand about Jaws: for most of the movie you don't see the shark, but then BAM! There's a giant freakin' shark! Holy crap!

    The audience tease of not being able to see the monster only works well when it's leading up to eventually seeing the * monster. Blair Witch has no payoff.

    Granted, I liked the ending. Hated the movie, but I thought the ending was ok. Thing is, it could have been a GREAT ending if only we'd been given even ONE character that we could feel ANY empathy for whatsoever and if we'd gotten SOME glimpse of the witch. Even if it was just a hunched shape shuffling off in the darkness through camera static. SOMETHING.

    In essence it was a long, boring time spent in the dark with people I genuinely wanted to see die, but by the time they do I was so bored that I no longer cared.

    I'm so glad watching this movie didn't cost me anything more than my precious time...
     
  2. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

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    That movie can only really be appreciated for it's marketing campaign in the context of when and how it all happened.

    I don't think anyone ever thought it was a great film.
     
  3. patsmear

    patsmear Sr Member

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    I would have killed the actors, to keep up with the whole "It's real" thing!
     
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  4. darthgordon

    darthgordon Sr Member

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    First- When did you see it? When the movie was released there was a lot of misinformation planted to make viewers think what they were seeing was real. Years later, of course, everyone knows it was a fake. It had several movies ride its shaky camera, found footage coattails that will never fool us again.

    Second- These are film students… they’re kids and they barely know each other. Kids are stupid. Put a group of people like this together and of course they’re going to fight.

    Third- I completely disagree that there should have been a Blair Witch shown. This movie was meant to fool you into thinking it was found footage. Show too much and it becomes unbelievable. It becomes Alien Autopsy and Paranormal Activity. The first people to see it would have said it was fake bs and no one else would have gone to see it. The movie leaves you with a feeling that it could be real and you don’t really know what happened. Besides, as I see it, horror movies about ghosts show way too much these days and it completely takes me out of the moment.

    Either way, I don’t see it as a “fail.” It just doesn’t hold up very well after all these years.
     
  5. Nexus6

    Nexus6 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    ^Quoted for truth.^
     
  6. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    I get what you're saying darthgordon, but here's the thing...

    First: I saw it right when it first came out on video so by then I knew it wasn't real, but the overblown hype machine that powered it's box office returns was still going. That's actually part of why I was so disappointed I think. It had been hyped to an unattainable degree. If I'd have gone into it just having heard "It was ok" then I might have been more charitable.

    Second: I just never got the impression that the characters liked each other enough to have gotten together in the first place and they just acted like stupid jerks. It's been a while since I saw it (I only thought about it after all these years because they mentioned in in "Going to Pieces" which I just re-watched today) but didn't one of them just decide to destroy the map at one point just to be a jerk? If that's not stupid I'm not sure what is.

    And Third: They wouldn't have had to show a monster if we'd been emotionally invested in the characters, but since I wasn't at all, then I should have gotten a monster. Because I disliked the characters so much their deaths had no weight at all, so they would have been better off going for a cheap 'jump' scare.

    Plus, and this is totally out there and it colors my opinion unfairly I'll admit, but I've been in those woods, in the exact spots where they filmed it, and I don't think even a blind person could get lost there. I fully admit that's totally unfair, but it's also true. :D
     
  7. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    Also, Jaws gave us both characters we cared about AND a monster and it worked great.
     
  8. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

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    Jaws is about evil humans who invade the sea and try and impede the normal feeding habits of an innocent shark. Then murder him.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
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  9. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    Micdavis, by that point of view the movie had LOTS of monsters in it then. :D

    Interesting point about that though, it is true that the movie does have some messed up ideas about shark behavior, a fact that Peter Benchley will readily point out, but the Movie Jaws is what first got me interested in sharks, which led me to knowing that they need to be protected.

    Benchley says he never would have written Jaws if he'd known how off he was and how many sharks would have been killed because of the movie, but conversely, I wonder how many people like me now want to see sharks protected BECAUSE of Jaws?
     
  10. niennumb1

    niennumb1 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I thought it was very cleverly advertised. I hadn't a clue it was fake really due to the time period being where it was harder to find information about many things online the way we do now.

    The movie scared the crap out of me then. Knowing what it is now, not so much.

    The fact you never did get to see what this witch looked like left so much to the imagination as to how freaky the sight had to have been.

    I still refuse to go in the woods at night to this day, hahah! That movie messed with me a bit :D

    The SECOND movie REALLLLY SUCKED BAD. Total Hollwood-looking BS. Not nearly as effective as the cheaply made predecessor.

    I think if you knew it was fake before even seeing the movie it would have had a different effect then. Not quite the same experience now of course. I definitely don't think it failed though.
     
  11. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    I didn't even bother with the second one. It looked terrible from the trailers.
     
  12. darthgordon

    darthgordon Sr Member

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    Well... I'll try not to beat a dead horse...

    but as I'm saying, these kids barely know each other to begin with. They're film students that get together only because they're excited about making this documentary. I'm sure a lot of us have worked in groups in college or at work where we get into disagreements. Now picture this happening in the woods. You've been lost for a few days. You've only brought enough supplies to last one night. Your "leader" seems to have been leading you in circles. You're all scared, you're all far from home with no hope in sight (keep in mind, that you already knew it was fake and new they weren't far from civilization at all). They're being terrorized nightly. So naturally, you're all going to start going at eachother's throats.

    There was, however a little bonding scene the first night they were out there that showed that they didn't go out there acting like crazy people.

    Also, there were stories told at the beginning of the movie... part of the documentary that talked about the Blair Witch influencing people. It had been intended, I believe, that the witch had influence the character throw the map away.

    Now, I will say, that knowing it is not real, the movie does not have much to offer. It was very much about the viral campaign and the hype. Whether we had an inkling that it wasn't real or not, without the information that is available today (and the internet was so young back then), I think we wanted to believe it was real. We wanted to be scared.

    About a year or two ago, I had found someone that had never seen the movie and was a bit younger when it came out. He remembered the hype and the viral campaign, but never looked any further into it (kind of a sheltered life until recently). So when I showed it to him, he thought it was real. I made sure not to tell him the truth. I realize to some this may seem cruel, but I think it really creates the experience. As I said, knowing it's fake takes a lot from it. He was terrified. I told him after it was over though :p

    Basically, what I'm saying is that if you know the woods, you know it's fake... yeah... it's not going to work for you.
     
  13. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    Very good points. I guess I was just really let down by the disparity between the viral stuff which was great, and the movie, which wasn't so great. I appreciate what they were trying to do with the first (that I know of anyway) viral campaign and having a largely unscripted movie. I get what they were going for, I just feel that more effort went into setting up the other stuff than into the actual movie itself.

    Granted, this is largely because (if I understand correctly) the viral stuff was done by the studio after the movie was finished, so yeah...

    As for not telling your buddy it wasn't real being cruel, it might have been, but given the opportunity I'd do the same thing. :D
     
  14. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    I think BW had a few genuinely creepy moments, however the ad-libbing kids got really, really annoying (like when the kid screamed through most of War of the Worlds). That feeling of irritation, coupled with becoming carsick watching the shaky cam on the big screen, 100% cancelled out any enjoyment I was able to feel. Could have been a good movie, but the bad outweighed the good imo. It's a shame. The end is fantastic. And I'm glad they didn't show a witch. Less is often more, as the cliche goes.
     
  15. JD

    JD Master Member

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    The Blair Witch Project will always be underrated in my opinion.

    It basically launched a whole style of film that before it was practically non-existent (the psuedo-documentary). There was a ton of ambition and real unique concept behind it and it was all done by 'kids' with no real budget.

    Is it a great movie? No. Does it get a bad rap? Yeah.

    All that said, it's been years since I've seen it and I'v wanted to rewatch for a long time... so, some of my thoughts out it might be thoughts through rose colored glasses.
     
  16. moffeaton

    moffeaton Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    UMBC was using Bolex cameras in film classes into the early 2000s, so the fact that film students would cut their teeth on B&W (8mm?) makes perfect sense to me.
     
  17. Art Andrews

    Art Andrews Community Owner Community Staff

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    JD (and darthgordon) pretty much nailed it.

    I COMPLETELY disagree that this movie "failed." It was a smashing success... but in saying that, it doesn't mean it was a great movie. Overall, I didn't actually care for the movie itself all that much, but the marketing around it and the innovative styling launched a whole new segment of the industry. If you want to say it failed to live up to your expectations or to the trailers... well... how many movie live up to their trailers? Trailers are a marketing ploy and a specifically designed to draw you in. Sadly, they often show EVERYTHING that is great in a film and by the time you see the film itself, all you are seeing is the filler between those great pieces you saw in the trailer...
     
  18. Westies14

    Westies14 Master Member

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    I think it was pretty great, actually. It was a low-budget film done in a very creative way, and I was on the edge of my seat through my entire first theater viewing and couldn't get it out of my head for a while after (not that I stayed scared, but I kept thinking about the film because it left an impression). As someone mentioned above, no one had done anything like it before (found footage stuff - of course Spinal Tap was a mainstream mockumentary) that I had seen at least...
     
  19. Clutch

    Clutch Master Member

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    You wanna see some good cinema? Go see Blair Witch II. :lol
     
  20. Larry Young

    Larry Young Master Member

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    Talking about The Blair Witch Project as a film completely missus the point of The Blair Witch Project.
     
  21. JD

    JD Master Member

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    But it is a film, Larry. A low budget, experiment of a film.

    The thing is it's not supposed to be a film. It's supposed to be a document of a home recording... that's what makes it a film. If this were just found footage, then, no it's not a film.
     
  22. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

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    I'll take a movie that made millions at a cost of about 60 grand any day as a failure.

    And it was a good movie.
     
  23. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    So, basically, you were wanting this ending.

    I do commend it for one thing: it reminded people that you don't need a whole lot of money to make a movie that is interesting. Originally, it was going to be shot like a normal feature, with a 3rd person POV (typical of most movies). But due to the amount of money it would have cost to make it possible (especially when you're shooting out in the woods, where you'd need to light scenes and have a generator out there to power those lights). So, by using a consumer video camera and standard black and white film stock (which is cheaper than color stock), and by changing it into a sort-of first person POV film, they were able to pull off more scenes in a shorter amount of time with the limitations they had to work within than they would have if they had done it as a typical feature. It's much like John Carpenter and his crew for Halloween. If it hadn't been for the using the new steadycam system, Halloween would have costed a lot more for them to make and taken more time to set scenes up for (especially the opening scene, which hadn't been done like it was before that moment). The point is the filmmakers new their limitations, and due to the technology, they were able to pull off a lot more than if they had done it normally.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  24. sskunky

    sskunky Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    What gets me in the film is if they had just followed the river instead of crossing it all the bloody time they would have got away scott free! :lol
     
  25. Larry Young

    Larry Young Master Member

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    Well, sure. I'm not saying it isn't. I'm just saying that if one applies standard film criticism to it, one is missing the point of The Blair Witch Project.

    Exactly.
     
  26. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    This found footage thing wasn't groundbreaking. Perhaps there weren't a ton before; maybe BW popularized it, but that's all. Check out Man Bites Dog for a much, much better (and earlier) example.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  27. Westies14

    Westies14 Master Member

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    Man Bites Dog was mockumentary, too though. It had interviews. More Spinal Tap/Waiting for Guffman by way of violence.
     
  28. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

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    Well when.....

    I'm not sure how intelligent of an argument can be made against something in the first place.

    At least revisit it before you go ripping into something.
     
  29. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    Yeah, I see what you're saying. I'm confusing mocumentary and found footage a bit in that example...although without getting into the end and spoiling it, I can't elaborate :)
     
  30. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

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    Or like Star Wars if they had just shot the escape pod with the droids. Or like Back to the Future, if Doc Brown hadn't made deals with Libyans. Or like 28 Days Later, they hadn't let the murderous monkeys out of the cages.

    Sounds like boring movies to me.
     
  31. SVTStingRay

    SVTStingRay Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  32. nickytea

    nickytea Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Wait, so Cloverfield didn't really happen?
     
  33. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

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    Where on that site can you find the pictures of it?
     
  34. Lvbolts

    Lvbolts Active Member

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    I think everyone made some great points but if you watched and graded the movie after a decade of it being out the whole point of what they were trying to do is not there in regards to the advertising. I thought it refreshing that you never saw the witch, it was one of those "Was there a witch or was one of the students doing it." I thought for the budget the concept was different and tried something that you did not see back then.
    Here is a piece my friend put together for me. He actually went to the house and brought some pieces back for me. He said being in that house even in the day time was scary.
     
  35. markomac

    markomac Well-Known Member

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    I think I may have to rewatch this one day. I for the life of me can not remember what the ending was. Apparently it was a good one.
     
  36. niennumb1

    niennumb1 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I remember way back they said it cost them $33,000 to make and they even returned the video camera to circuit city or wherever they bought it when they were done!

    Film made over $150m or $160m which made it one of the biggest profit margin films ever at the time vs. cost to make.

    That's pretty darn successful. I wonder how much Paranormal Activity raked in compared to production budget?

    Just goes to show you that it's not the tools, but how you use those tools to make something unique!
     
  37. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    moffeaton, I was unaware of that. I guess I need to throw out that particular criticism.
     
  38. Lear60man

    Lear60man Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Ford,

    Watching it now is like knowing how a magician does a particular magic trick. It takes all the 'magic' away.

    I saw the BWP when it was in limited release in LA back in the day (1999?). The now wife and I, got tickets via a friend and only learned about the premise from people waiting in line. We had no clue about it being a real film. All we 'knew' at the time was that it was a collection of footage from a bunch of missing college students. So we were primed for the intent of being gullible, and we were.

    At that time in film history, nothing like this had been done before. It was truly groundbreaking. Needless to say, people were so scared that they left the theater. In a packed house, I would say about 20-25 freaked out watchers left. Not bored, but freaked. I would equate it to being in a movie theatre circa 'Exorcist' or 'Jaws'. By the time I saw these movies I was older and a little jaded. Thus they were comical.

    When released before the truth, the BWP hit its mark in using subliminal scare tactics. Im sorry you got to see the plastic teeth on the movie vampire so to speak. We we scared to death until a few day later when we learned the truth. But a what a fun few days!
     
  39. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Yep. Prior to that, there wasn't any other movie like that. :lol No, really, there wasn't any other movie like that prior to BWP. :lol :lol
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  40. Larry Young

    Larry Young Master Member

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    When folks say "nothing like that had been done before" in film history, they are talking about the effectiveness of the advertising campaign.
     
  41. mrbungle

    mrbungle Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    i liked it. same with thing clerks. it showed you do not need 20 million bucks to make a movie.

    could have it been better,sure but for what is was, i liked it.
     
  42. Lvbolts

    Lvbolts Active Member

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    I agree, the advertising was the new point.
     
  43. Lear60man

    Lear60man Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Exactly Larry.

    Cannibal Holocaust as a comparison?

    I would compare BWP to Paranormal Activity but PA wasnt really scary because you knew it was just a movie. BWP was being promoted as real. Remember this was a time when daily use of the internet by average people was just in its infancy. There werent websites like Snopes or The Smoking Gun to bust the charrade. Thus the moviegoer actually thought what they were seeing was a collection of recovered footage.
     
  44. niennumb1

    niennumb1 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I'm sure they meant mainstream in theaters. I'm sure when you talk indie stuff most everyone's not aware of that stuff is always being done.

    Who knows... maybe the big wigs out there look for something new off an internet video and then make their own ripping off others ideas. heheh....
     
  45. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    That's the thing guys, I haven't seen it since then. I'm writing about my recollections of it from back then and even back then, the advertising campaign drew me in and then the movie disappointed me terribly.

    I truly do appreciate the fact that they tried something new, which I wholeheartedly commend, but I was presented one thing and given something else. Truthfully, I think if I'd seen the movie without the ad campaign I would have liked it better. I'd have still disliked the characters, but I'd have been more willing to roll with it.
     
  46. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you if I did. I just thought it was a good opportunity for a little bit of a joke.
     
  47. greylocke

    greylocke Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    If I remember correctly Cannibal Holocaust was one of the first films to use the found footage theme. To the point that the director was actually charged with the murder of his actors and had to cancel the contracts of the actors so they could appear in court to defend him.



    I agree. The fact that there was no witch shown heightens the suspense in my opinion. You don't know what she looks like, you don't know if she is real or an ethereal being. My ex-wife to this day is terrified of that movie, my oldest daughter and I think it's hilarious.

    See my above. My 18 years old daughter was laughing 30 minutes into it.
     
  48. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

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    I think "The Last Broadcast" might have been about the same time, maybe earlier. Found footage films aren't new, but they didn't have quite the distribution that BWP had.

    Oops, TLB was a bit later. I could of sworn there was an earlier version.
     
  49. stevo

    stevo New Member

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    im gonna have to watch again
     
  50. Ford W Maverick

    Ford W Maverick Well-Known Member

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    It's all good CB2001, I wasn't offended. Just wanted to clarify myself. :D
     

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