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

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Ford W Maverick

Well-Known Member
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 damn 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 damn 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...
 

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micdavis

Master Member
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.
 

darthgordon

Sr Member
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.
 

Nexus6

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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.
^Quoted for truth.^
 

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Ford W Maverick

Well-Known Member
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
 

micdavis

Master Member
Jaws is about evil humans who invade the sea and try and impede the normal feeding habits of an innocent shark. Then murder him.
 
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Ford W Maverick

Well-Known Member
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?
 

niennumb1

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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.
 

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darthgordon

Sr Member
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.
 

Ford W Maverick

Well-Known Member
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
 

cayman shen

Master Member
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.
 

JD

Master Member
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.
 

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moffeaton

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
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.
 

Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
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.
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...
 

Westies14

Master Member
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...
 

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