The Blair Witch Project is an American Horror film directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez in 1999. The film follows three students as they go about filming a documentary about the Blair Witch in a forest which leads to their disappearance.
The Blair Witch Project was classed as one of scariest films ever by many of its audience after watching the 81 minute horror. But one of the factors contributing to this scare factor is that the film uses very simple horror. "Horror films that tap into our hard-wired instinctive fears probe a deeper place than movies with more sophisticated threats." (Ebert, 1999). This film didn't rely on elaborate special effects or a ton of gore to induce fear into the audience, instead it uses fears that we can relate to. Fears such as darkness and the fear of the unknown. We never actually see the "witch" in the film, we only watch and experience the torments of the demon. People feel a lot more comfortable when they know where a particular sound is coming from, but when you can here something whistling through the trees in the dead of night and don't know what it is, things seem a lot more scarier.
The Blair Witch Project was even created with a tiny budget compared to most Hollywood Horror Blockbusters and was still a huge success. "It does the job without guns or a glimpse of a naked, screaming coed and with a budget ($75,000) that couldn't buy George Lucas a proper car." (Travers, 1999). Apart from the opening minutes of public interviews, you only see 3 actors for the whole film. This, not only being a lot cheaper than hiring a huge cast and crew makes the film seem a lot more personal and makes the audience feel more intimate with the characters. The entire film is recorded on a small hand held video camera and gives the effect that the events are being documented by the characters as seen in Figure 2. This also gives a much more realistic feel to the film and that it could be believed to be true.
Another factor that plays as a huge strength to the films scariness is it's realism. The fact that it is recorded on a home video camera and is set out as though the whole story is very believable all contributes to the horror of the film. "The raw, amateurish-seeming scenes that result, with their repetitiveness and lack of focus, only pull us deeper into the film's illusion that what we're seeing really happened." (Rose, 1999) There is nothing in the film that we actually see that couldn't be true, there are no huge man eating monsters stomping through the woods, we only experience the fear running through the characters. The characters fear is also very believable whilst watching. This is due to that fact that most of the scenes and dialogue were improvised, the actors were only given a base outline of the plot. This means that the fear that we are seeing could actually be true fear. Another way in which the directors make the film convincing is by including interviews of residents of the local area about the witch legend, seen in Figure 3. This gives the effect that the rumour is a popular story and makes the audience follow the crowd and start to question whether the tale is true.
Ebert, R (1999) The Blair Witch Project Film Review http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-blair-witch-project-1999 (Accessed on 25/02/14)
Rose, L (1999) The Blair Witch Project Film Review http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/blairwitchprojectrose.htm (Accessed on 25/02/14)
Travers, P (1999) The Blair Witch Project Film Review http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/the-blair-witch-project-19990730 (Accessed on 25/02/14)
Figure 1, The Blair Witch Project (1999) Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, [Film Poster] USA, Haxan Films, http://www.impawards.com/1999/posters/blair_witch_project_ver3.jpg (Accessed on 25/02/14)
Figure 2, The Blair Witch Project (1999) Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, [Film Still] USA, Haxan Films, http://mos.totalfilm.com/images/t/the-blair-witch-remake-project--430-75.jpg (Accessed on 25/02/14)
Figure 3, The Blair Witch Project (1999) Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, [Film Still] USA, Haxan Films, http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_large/hash/16/17/1351101781_6816_mary.jpg?itok=QuGJj30l (Accessed on 25/02/14)