186 of 215 people found the following review helpful
It seems like everyone now enjoy's ripping on "The Blair Witch Project", and I don't get it?! It's almost like when you scare the hell out of that kid when you are in 6th grade, and he might have been screaming wide-eyed with fright, only to tell you a couple minutes later "Hey, You Didn't Scare Me", just to repair his pride or ego. When I first saw "Blair Witch", it did scare me, and left me a little rattled at the end.....why? Because when I went to see it in the theater, there was still a strong buzz about the movie that it was either really an aborted documentary, or was a film based on true events...we were supposedly seeing the genuine article. Sure, I may have been duped by a clever marketing campaign that involved TV mocumentaries, internet gossip and radio buzz.....and looking back I think that was great. "Blair Witch" if nothing else, is a wonderful homage to William Castle, who back in the day of "The Tingler" would wire theater seats to shock select members of the audience to induce a well timed scream, or his film "The House on Haunted Hill", where skeletons would buzz the audience, or his movie "Straight Jacket" in which he offered the audience a chance to buy life insurance in case the film scared them to death. That is great stuff that put butts in the theater seats, and with the advances in technology, and modern communication, "Blair Witch" and it's marketing campaign did the same thing, only the updated version. It worked, the movie made a ton of dough and was the water-cooler talk around theoffice for weeks. Did I feel let down when I learned "Blair Witch" was just a movie? No. I applauded the idea behind the movie, and only wish more films would do the same. As far as the actual movie goes when I watch it on dvd....well it doesn't pack the same punch as when you might think these were actual events, but I still get a kick out of it. And it's obvious this film hit's a nerve with quite a few people, I mean at this time there are over 1700 reviews posted here at Amazon about this movie...most are ripping the film apart....but there just seems to be a hint of that 6th grader saying "Yeah....you didn't scare me" as they rush over to turn on the lights after the movie ends.
67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
This was and is, for me, a most fascinating film on several levels; the film itself being only one of the interesting points. Take a close look at the reviews that have been posted here on Amazon...look at them closely. We are quickly approaching a total of 2,000 reviews and if you check the spread you will instantly see that people are quite divided. It is almost an even split between those who love this film and praise it in many ways, and on the other end, those who absolutely despise everything about this work. I like that...just goes to illustrate the wonderful diversity in taste we humans are blessed with. What if we all liked the same thing? Boooring!
If you bother to read through these almost 2,000 reviews, dating back to 1999, you will note that this difference in opinion has generated a number of "flame wars" amongst our reviewers here. Whoa, talk about striking an emotional chord for a lot of movie viewers and buffs. There simply are not that many films that seem to polarize like this film. And again, personally I think that is a good thing.
I first watched this film shortly after its release and I must confess to you that at that time I was on the side of those who were not overly impressed. I remember my first reaction was "What the....." Since that time I have watched this film five or six times, with the last viewing being last night. I have changed my mind. The reason for this number of viewings is not that I was all that enamored with the movie, but rather that I keep very late hours...very, very late, (Insomnia you know) and do a tremendous amount of channel surfing in the wee hours of the morning. And that is where you will find this movie residing now...lost in the jumble of late night T.V. I have to tell you that over the years this one has grown on me.
The movie of course as we all know by now, broke some new ground, both in filming technique, and in marketing. The story is simple. Three young college kids head out into the spooky woods intent on making a documentary film concerning the Blair Witch. The filming is done by hand held cameras. There is little to no script and the entire movie looks as if it were indeed filmed by three college students with hand held cameras. The students become lost, scared, hungry, cold and bewildered. Strange things begin to happen. Emotionally the students begin fighting, bickering and the personal stress level of each increases. Why? There are no special effects in this movie, little or no blood and gore and as with the lost students; the viewer is required to let his or her imagination take over with only slight guidance from the film. If all goes well, this can be a terrifying movie. If all does not go well...it can be a complete waste.
Indulge me for a moment and let me explain why I seem to be able to identify with this particular movie.
Years ago, over fifty of them to be precise, my then girlfriend, who eventually became my wife and still is, took a day trip deep into the Boston Mountains of Northern Arkansas. I was very much into black and white photography at the time and we had heard rumors of an old house place in the middle of no-where and I wanted to photograph it.(I have a thing for old buildings, barns, houses, etc. After much research and question asking, we had a pretty good idea where this old place was located. After a very long drive, over extremely bad roads which at the end included wheel ruts down through the woods, we found the head of the path that supposedly led to this place.
Leaving the car in the middle of the woods we took our rather primitive backpacks (Army surplus) and about a ton of photography gear, a couple of cheese sandwiches, a small amount of water, and headed out. It took us over three hours going over very rough and difficult terrain (It was in August and extremely hot), much more rugged than that which was depicted in the movie, but we finally located the old house. It was in the absolute middle of nowhere. There where no roads, very primitive and old paths, and was located about 50 yards from an ancient creek bed. The house was most certainly well over 100 years old.
Now his was long, long before this movie was produced, but this old home, while smaller, bore an eerie resemblance to the Blair Witch home which we would see in the future. Of course we did not know that then. Anyway, we went about the business of setting up to photograph the place, inside and out. I made f few obligatory passes at my friend but we were so hot and dirty by that time, the moves were more or less half-hearted on my part and nil on hers.
I am not what you would call a strong believer in the supernatural...at best I am a skeptic; at worse, I admit that there are things beyond what I can explain. But let me tell you that we both, my future wife and I, were extremely ill at ease...right from the get go. There was something about that old house that was just "wrong." This feeling built and built over the next couple of hours or so to the point where we suddenly and spontaneously decided to get as far away from the place as we could. Oh my.
Neither my girl friend nor I were or are unfamiliar with wilderness area. We both did and do pretty much know what we are doing. But let me tell you that within 30 min. we were completely lost! I do not know how it happened, but lost we were...and it got worse; it got to the point of almost absolute panic. The longer we struggled to find our way out, the more, and I do not exaggerate here, the more terrified we became. We were absolutely convinced that "something" was watching us and "something" was following us. I know that this was more than likely a product of young and over active imaginations; I know that now, but let me tell you that it was very real at that time.
It was very much after dark when we finally found our car which was a matter of absolute pure luck.(Brilliant me did not bother to pack any sort of flashlight...something that was strongly pointed out to me at the time). We did not scream or curse at each other during this ordeal like the three in the movie did, but I can tell you that there were plenty of sharp and sarcastic exchanges, particularly on my friend's part, during those hours.
And the story did not end there! I shot a total of 16 rolls of film during that shoot; they were good shots....I think. When I developed the film, every roll, and I mean every roll was completely black! I am pretty good with a camera, both artistically and technically...was then; am now. I don't make mistakes like that and never have. I will be very honest with you though, after all these years we have never, never, never been even the slightest bit tempted to go back and reshoot.
Anyway, I know how those three would have felt had the story been true.
I think that for the viewer to appreciate this movie they need to let their imaginations loose and just go with the flow and try to get into the spirit of the film.
When all is said and done, the marketing of this film was a stroke of brilliance. It cost around $40,000. to shoot and has made millions over the years and is still making money. After reading these reviews it is still apparently entertaining a lot of people and a lot of people still think it is a horrid movie. Again, this is good...I like the controversy. Ignore the hype...watch it and make up your own mind...more or less ignore all of these reviews; the good, the bad and the ugly.
As I said, ignore the star rating on this review...it is almost meaningless. I have read the negative reviews and the positive reviews and for the most part agree with them all...on some level. I will say though, that if you have not watched this film you should do so, if for no other reason than to find out what all the hoopla is about.
47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2000
I really don't care for modern horror movies....they seem so stupid nowadays (Scream was a recent exception). But I really liked this.
If you like Hollywood cookie-cutter horror movies, this is definitely NOT for you. It's a very unique, experimental movie, one which had elements from my childhood nightmares (getting lost, being in a strange house, etc.).
Why it works, I think, is because so much is unseen or vague, leaving much of what is going on to your own imagination, sort of like Jaws, where the most intense scenes are those where the shark isn't even in sight. Hitchcock understood this concept, that less is more.
Unfortunately, today's viewers (especially younger ones) are jaded by the glut of gore and special effects in modern Hollywood horror movies, which may explain the negative reviews (worst movie ever? Not by a long-shot). Gore is almost non-existent in this movie...but be warned, I believe the "R" rating comes from the use of the "F" word, which becomes more and more prevalent as the three filmmakers get more and more lost/scared/frustrated.
I was a little disappointed at the ending initially, but the movie stuck with me for weeks after (I also had trouble falling asleep the night I saw it)....give it a shot.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2014
First off, do take heed of the top two reviews posted here: "Give Credit Where Credit's Due" and "IGNORE THE STAR RATING HERE..." - they are even-handed, articulate, and amusing.
As for me? I say with confidence that BWP obviously ranks among the all-time great Horror films. You can check out my Amazon "Listmania" list, entitled TOP 24 HORROR FILMS, to get an idea of my tastes. Anyways, I'm a life-long Horror geek, and BLAIR WITCH is top ten without a doubt. But bear in mind that I'm talking about smart-scary films that actually succeed in creating a palpable feeling of anxiety in the viewer. Gore's a bore and cheap thrills are just that.
Now I was fortunate enough to actually see this sucker in the theatre, and it was the only time in my movie-going life that I found myself literally slack-jawed and gaping at the screen as the credits rolled. My date was also a bit freaked out by the end, and absolutely convinced - as so many others were - that the film was a true story, or at least heavily based on one. Such was the power of The Project when it first stormed US theatres.
So disregard the inappropriately low star-rating and the horde of befuddled clue-frees who posted them. Horror films only really work when experienced under the right set of circumstances. Ideally you should be alone in a darkened room with the film playing on as large a screen as possible. If you're going to watch with others, try for as few as possible, because even one vocal disbeliever can disrupt the spell for everyone. And why waste time with a Horror film if you're not willing or able to at least TRY let yourself be seduced by it? Open yourself to this one and you'll be forkin' AMAZED.
5 stars for those who dare...
33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
First, I feel like I have to address the buzz surrounding the movie. I am at the same time disgusted and sort of impressed with the hype. It is pretty clever when you think about it. No trailers (well, they did have some eventually, but still, it took them long enough) no cast members doing the rounds on talk shows, no big budget, etc. Just the website, the documentary on the SciFi channel, and big-time word of mouth. Apparently worked. I feel for those actors, since they got paid about what I make in 2 weeks for 3 weeks of hell. I hope to God the filmmakers were generous and gave them points in the film.
I am also hearing that at most theaters, they pay the manager, etc to get up before the showing and get the crowd all hyped up, which is kind of lame. When we saw it Saturday, the owner (before she threatened people who had laser pointers) got up and yelled, "Hey, welcome to Crossroads theater, and ARE YA READY FOR THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT? Whooooo-hoooo! Everyone READY TO BE SCARED?" I was like, oh please. I also heard these girls in front of me asking someone next to them if **this was a real documentary**. We got up and moved because I did not want to spend the movie sitting behind someone so incredibly stupid and naive. But I guess that's what a good job they did marketing it, because I heard there are plenty of stupid people out there who think the thing is real. I also grudgingly admire whoever decided to market it initially as a 'hard ticket', meaning they wanted to have it only at one theater or so per city for a few weeks. I'm sure that helped the buzz. Hyping it as the scariest movie of all time (though maybe this is more word of mouth than the filmmakers doing it) is kind of dumb, though, because people are just going to be disappointed, unless all they've seen are "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer". I heard kids talking after the movie who were let down because they was very little gore, no monster, and no real pay-off.
I had a good time because I told myself not to expect anything. I guess if you go, just keep an open mind, and don't think, "This better be the scariest movie of all time after all the hype, or I'll be p**sed". I do think it's kind of funny how the big studios spend millions of dollars marketing their lame summer 'event' pics, but this is the one most people are talking about wanting to see.
So, that's my 2 cents as far as the hype goes. Went and saw BWP for myself a few weeks after in came out. Inside the theater manager had to come make an announcement about laser pointers, she said if anyone used them during the movie she'd take them away and kick them out. She was this huge, burly, tough woman who looked like a prison warden so people calmed down after that and shut up. Anyway, I loved it. Not the scariest movie I've ever seen, but if you asked me what the scariest movie I've ever seen was, I wouldn't be able to name it. I would saw BWP, the Exorcist, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, Last House on the Left (and a couple more I can't think of right now) are like the top scariest. I was really impressed though. Very realistic, the way it was shot and put together, and the character's reactions to stuff. My spouse said it really scared him, which he hardly ever says, because he's been camping and that's like your worst nightmare. The whole movie was very creepy and spooky but the last 5 minutes REALLY scared the crap out of me.
It's funny, the audience started out very rowdy, and I thought I'd have to "shhh" people the whole movie. But after the first 5 minutes, people were engrossed. As the film got more and more tense and scary, there were no screams. Instead, the whole audience just sat there cowering quietly in fear. Not a lot of talking back to the screen, etc like there is in most horror movies, and the audience was full of teenagers. That speaks for itself, I think.
I read a review in which they said that the movie was all about panic, and I agree. One of the most upsetting things is the way the characters go from calm, controlled, and joking, to nervously joking and then arguing, to trying desperately to hold it together, to understandable total freaked out panic by the last reel. As the film draws to a close they just give up all pretenses of composure and control and just panic and run around like maniacs screaming incoherently at the top of their lungs. Usually when characters in a movie do that you feel like slapping them, but the film draws you in so much that you do not blame them, one bit. You know you would probably act the same way if you were in their shoes, and the way the movie is filmed, you are pretty much in their shoes.
Bottom line regarding how scary it is: If I'd been watching it by myself at home at night I probably would have started crying.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Most people don't get, I suppose, the fact that this movie's complete success relies on the fact that there is no visible perpetrator in the events that lead up to the untimely deaths of the protagonists.
The first time I watched it, I fell asleep, thinking it was pure drivel, wondering when I was going to get to see some gore. Then I watched it again, and again, and again, and became (painfully) aware that it is, indeed, one of the most effectively psychologically damaging films that I have ever seen. Why? Because you never, ever get to see who or what is out there doing this to these people. Without a visible bad guy, the imagination of the viewer is allowed to wander in any direction, most likely toward the viewer's most inate fears. And for God's sake, I don't care how cool you think you are: if you woke up in the morning and found your camping partner's teeth bound up in a bunch of sticks, you'd be pretty justified in freaking out.
Now, I am not a wimp when it comes to films. I've sat through Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist (yawn), all of them, countless times. Not one film has ever done to me what this film did. Just the noises outside of their tent on their third night camping, even before their tent gets pounded and they run screaming into the woods, makes me quiver and shake. Ooh-wee, I love that scene.
All I can hope is that they don't run the whole thing into the ground with sequel and planned prequel. As long as it doesn't turn into another dang Friday the 13th I'll be happy.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2009
Ahhh going all the way back to summer 1999 when this little gem was released, i was in high school, a bunch of my friends saw this. we were divided after the show, some did not like the whole documentary style look, the shaky camera use, some said it wasn't scary, some like me thought it was brilliant and scary, the old adage less is more... certainly worked in this case.
The movie isn't about the budget--- sure it was made on a small small budget and made a huge profit, what helped was that we as viewers were first introduced to an aggressive online ad campaign--- the film makers had the website, had the back story of the three lost film makers, the history of the Blair Witch, it was all very clever because I remember when clicking through the website I couldn't tell if this was real or not, or based on a true story then as word got around when this movie was getting popular it was all a clever rouse by the film makers themselves. Now you see these online viral ad campaigns everywhere, all in part have to thank the Blair Witch movie. remember 1999 was still new to online information, Yahoo was coming around and there was the big Website boom, look how far we come now with the Net.
And the whole documentary style film making is not new, the film makers have alot to owe to the Italian Cannibal movies Cannibal Holocaust for the inspiration, where that film an anthropologist finds lost footage of a trio of film makers that disappeared in the jungles of the Amazon. This film was made back in the early 80s. So this kind of style is not new.
The movie itself is shot in grainy black and white, and showing no gore no violence, everything is implied. At night in the woods all alone, your mind can take over, hearing every little twig break, every leaf rustle, will make your hairs stand on end. It's this simplicity that makes the film work. There's a scene where the three filmmakers are in the tent and they hear strange sounds coming from the woods and they shine a flash light out in the the black abyss and it doesn't penetrate nothing, the light, doesn't illuminate who or what is out there, total blackness is all around them and it's only then they feel most vulnerable, the filmmakers playing on everyone's general fear of the unknown, the darkness and one cannot anticipate early morning that much faster to make it safe again with the daylight. i want to say it's also a character driven movie, the interactions between the trio of documentary filmmakers and the stress they are put through as they get lost deeper and deeper into the Maryland wilderness. Everyone is on edge and on the brink of flipping out and going postal on each other, but throughout they try to stay calm and keep that inner beast inside them.
Let's fast forward to 2009, the new hit movie paranormal Activity, borrowing heavily from Blair witch, using less is more, this time in a house that has a demonic spirit
Anyways Blair Witch is a classic horror movie, our parents generation had the exorcist, Jaws, Psycho, Night of the Living dead, people who grew up in the 80s had Friday the 13th, Nightmare on elm street, The Thing, what do we got? Scream (crap), Urban legends (Yawn) I know what you did last summer (definitely crap), Final Destination and its subsequent crappie sequeals (Blahhh)
Blair witch is a rare gem for us who grew up in the 90s and got bombarded with crap movies like I mentioned, this one was a diamond in the ruff. I must say Where is the blu ray 10th anniversary edition?
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
You all know about "The Blair Witch Project", if you've never seen it than you've seen countless parodies of it and you've heard that it's "Scary as Hell"
and "One of the Creepiest Films Since The Exorcist". I'm not big on scary, most movies don't creep me out or disturb me anymore. I watch horror films because they can be entertaining...Or can at least be able to jolt you. This film somehow manages to be entertaining and not scary, but disturbing. I didn't find this movie disturbing however until the final scene where the remaining characters meet their end at the hands of an unseen killer. This part, although brief and with a complete lack of information, was slightly disturbing. It makes you think. But, anyways, as far as I know...The whole Blair Witch thing is a true myth, but this movie is not real. Although it's kind of billed as a true story. You know the whole "In October of 1994, three studen filmmakers disappeared...Etc." I think this works and the way the film is shot, which means completely with a handheld camera which gives it a look of realism is good. The movie is about three student filmmakers named
Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams (which, to help with realism, is the actors real names) go into the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland to investigate the legend of The Blair Witch. Once they get into the woods, tempers flare and they eventually get lost. But weird stuff begins to happen, while they sleep something is outside the tent and ritualistic figures are found outside...Piles of rocks used at a burial ground, the stickman things in the trees. Bunch of weird crap. Anyway, as the story moves along, they realize that they will not make it out alive and just by reading the synopsis on the back, that should be obvious. I'm not sure how this movie turned out to be good, when the real payoff isn't until the last 30 seconds of the film. That means over 70 minutes of movie is pacing, but the characters and dialouge seem so real I'm inclined to think it's improved. The way the characters talk is almost exactly how people talk in real life; stuttering, repeating themselves, getting agitated, etc. Anyway, if it's Friday and you want to rent a horror movie that has a lot of blood and violence. This movie isn't for you. But, if you want a semi-effective movie that uses the unseen and the unheard to disturb you, you should like this. Any person who has an appreciation for film, since this movie was pretty original in the ways of filming and such at the time, should see this as well.
26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
As a great horror movie fan who has seen literally hundreds of scary movies, this one ranks as one of the best. Admittedly, it's not a conventional horror movie, and you have to watch it with that in mind. People today are so used to seeing gore and outrageous, grotesque special effects in movies that they've come to expect it, and don't really know how to take a movie that makes you rely on imagination and implied fear of the unknown instead. This movie is unexpected and different in every way, from it's unusual format (shaky, home video-like scenes) to it's abrupt and terrifying ending. In short, you won't have the evil spelled out for you and presented in 3-D technicolor all over the screen; you have to conjure it from your imagination, and if you lack the imagination required for this, you won't enjoy it. There are no slick computer digital enhancements or neat special effects, the film is designed to look like something that a couple amateur college kids filmed in the woods. This film presented a kind of slow, subtle terror that is more likely to happen in real life. That's probably the problem with most people who hate the movie; it's too realistic. In real life all of our conversations aren't snappy and witty, we get into petty, boring arguments with each other, and things are less flashy than they are in movies. To me, this just makes the movie more "real" and terrifying.
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The Blair Witch Project is the most brilliantly creepy movie I have ever seen. I can no longer say just how many times I've watched this film, but I become more and more impressed with its production with each viewing. I can't really imagine how so many people can claim that this film didn't scare them in the least. I am a long-time horror fan, inured long ago to almost everything the movie studios throw out there on the big screens with a "frightening" label. The Blair Witch Project, I am delighted to say, creeped me out quite impressively. It may well be that this is a different movie experience depending on the venue of its audience. Those watching the film for the first time at home can turn off all their lights and watch the movie in the dark, but there is really no way to recreate or equal the powerful mood and atmosphere that came rushing in icy waves on to a theatre audience. When I go to see horror movies, there is almost always some laughter to be heard from time to time, and usually I am the one doing the laughing. Once Heather, Michael, and Josh got into the Maryland woods and the spooky meter began to rise, an eerie, almost unprecedented silence took over those of us sitting in the theatre. There was no laughter; I heard no one sucking on a straw or chomping on popcorn; no adolescents whispered back and forth. There was no longer an audience around me; I and the film were locked together in a mortal embrace, and as the suspense built up at the end I felt as if some force were pushing me farther and farther back into my seat. When the movie ended, I don't remember anyone really talking about what they had just seen; I think we all just wanted to get the heck out of that darkened theatre. That kind of experience, I must say, is what my horror dreams are made of. Viewing the film at home just cannot recreate the movie experience.
To me, The Blair Witch Project is simply brilliant in many, many ways. First, of course, Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick used the Internet to build up a hype of unprecedented proportions for this film many months before its general release, creating a thriving fan base drawn deeply into the legend of the Blair Witch and the mysteriously doomed student film project, mucking up the waters of truth and fiction into a bloody froth that attracted horror sharks such as myself from far and wide. Then there was the SciFi Channel documentary Curse of the Blair Witch that was released just prior to the film's release. In this remarkably professional and believable documentary, the fictional story of the movie was given sturdy legs with which to scurry around the truth. The actors used in the documentary were amazingly good, and the use of family photos, old historical documents and letters, newspaper articles, television news features, interviews with law enforcement, family and friends, etc., did a great job of masquerading fiction as reality. Even those of us who knew going into the theatre that this was a work of pure fiction could allow ourselves to wonder if the story could still actually be true, and that suspension of disbelief did much to increase the power of what I saw on the big screen.
Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams were simply brilliant. Their displays of fright, rage, and hopelessness were stunningly believable; of course, some credit for the actors' performances must also go to the geniuses behind the film. I would imagine that the dark woods would become quite unnerving after a few nights, even when you know that whoever or whatever is out there is just someone associated with the film production, and the fact that the characters were forced to endure sleep-deprived nights and grueling daytime hikes over the course of a full week had to do wear down the defenses of the actors and bring to the surface emotions and expressions that lie too deeply to be accessed simply on command. I am still fascinated to read about the way in which things were managed in the filming. The actors ad libbed almost everything they said and did, which is actually quite amazing. At times, though, they had to redo things in order to please the filmmakers; the best example of this comes in the movie's final scene. As I understand it, the scene in the movie is actually a second night's shoot of those events, as things did not go quite the way the filmmakers wanted on the first night. To see that kind of emotion and fear portrayed by an exhausted Michael and Heather on a second night's take is just outstanding.
This horror fan welcomed such a refreshingly new type of movie to the fold. I like blood and gore as much as anyone, but true fright is best achieved by unspectacular yet highly personal events taking place in what looks very much like the real world as we know it. Millions of dollars have never made an expensive, special effects-laden horror movie as creepy as this extremely low-budget masterpiece of mood, atmosphere, and unseen things that go bump in the night.