Wednesday, 15 June 2011
The Blair Witch Project - One of the Scariest Films EVER!?!
Just what is a scary movie? I believe that the scariest of movies are the ones that take all of your innermost fears and bring them to the forefront of your imagination. Yes I admit that with a lot of these movies, it depends on just how much of an imagination you actually have. It can be a concious imagination, or the unconcious, the kind that you are not even aware that you have. I guess one one of the reasons why movies such as these can be the ones that you either see in the cinema, or at home on your own, or late at night. In these circumstances you get to switch off from the daily grind that is your life…that is when the unconcious imagination has the best opportunity to take flight.
One of my own personal scariest movies is The Blair Witch Project. This is a movie that widely divided people’s opinions. From what I have experienced, people either love it or hate it. Find it to be utterly terrifying, or just downright boring. I am the former on both counts.
When the movie came out in 1999, it was the first time that a movie such as this had made it to the mainstream. It was a time when the internet started to be truly utilised as a marketing campaign. The idea of a found footage movie was not a new one, Cannibal Holocaust did this back in 1980, this movie never made it to the mainstream however and was actually banned as part of the video nasty revolt in the 1980’s. In my humble opinion, most of these banned movies now seem pretty tame in comparison to say Saw and Hostel, both of which were movies to break the mainstream. With Saw going on to become the most successful horror franchise of all time. The original Saw still remains one of my all time favourite films and the combination of James Wan and Leigh Whannell, one of my favourite movie working partnerships. The difference with these modern movies as opposed to Cannibal Holocaust however is that yes, they may have been brutal…however they did not kill any living creature to make the movie. Cannibal Holocaust did which was not cool. I’m all up for slicing in my movies and dicing however to murder a living creature to make a movie, director Ruggero Deodato should be ashamed of himself!
Getting back on track though, the marketing campaign for The Blair Witch Project had the movie touted as “found footage” this movie is real, scariest film ever and all that jazz. To be perfectly honest, like many I’m sure, I was totally sceptical. So anyhoo, I went along with my housemate John to the newly built Warner Brothers Cinema (which would become Vue – a cinema that I would come to work at a couple of years later). So anyhoo, we got there and got our tickets and popcorn etc. and took our seats…we were a little bit too close to the screen for my liking but we were in a sold out screen so had no other choice. Now kids, when it comes to sitting down in the cinema to watch a film, I’m totally anally retentive as to where I have to sit. Anyone who has ever been to the cinema with me shall know this. I need to be sitting right in the middle…with my little peepers positioned perfectly so I don’t have to look neither too far up nor too far down at the screen. This is how bad I am for regular movies…for The Blair Witch Project and its shaky hand cam; this was WAY too close to the screen. Just saying.
For a large part of the movie, it wasn’t actually scary. The characters were really annoying and the acting pretty shoddy. So what was it that made this film so terrifying? I didn’t like the characters so it wasn’t like I actually cared what happened to them, hell, if this was a Friday the 13th movie I’d be routing for Jason to come out and go all machete (or whatever else he wanted to play with…including punching heads off, haha) on their asses!
I think what I found so terrifying is that you don’t really SEE anything throughout the movie. Yes, you see the creepy interwoven witchy sticks/voodoo dolls, the rocks around the tent, children laughing in the woods at night…this all adds up to the horrible creepiness that is going on but you are still largely relying on atmosphere and your own imagination.
The fabled legend of the Blair Witch is that of a witch named Elly Kedward who would lure children into her creepy home in the woods to take their blood. When Elly was found out, the townspeople banished her during the harshest of winters and she is presumed dead. However by the middle of the same winter all the people who banished Elly have disappeard, along with half the town’s children. This forced the rest of the townsfolk to flee the town of Blair and over time the story is thought to be a myth. The town of Burkittsville is founded upon what once was Blair and strange things start to happen. When our three protagonists reach Burkittsville to film a documentary for school based on the legend of the Blair Witch they are told of a hermit named Rustin Parr who kidnapped 7 children. Parr took the kids to his house in the forest where he would torture and murder them. Parr turned himself into the police telling them that he would take them into the basement in twos and fearing that their eyes were watching him and staring into his soul, he would make one turn to the corner of the basement while he killed the other, making the one in the corner listen to the screams of their companion before killing them too. After he turned himself into the police he pleaded insanity, claiming that the spirit of a witch named Elly Kedward who had hung from a tree in the 18th Century had make him commit the crimes, promising to leave him alone if obeyed.
This kind of legend is creepy enough in itself, but fascinating all the same. I mean, admit it, how many of you reading this would be totally fascinated by a story such as this and want to know more. It’s the kind of story that really gets into your head. Or at least it did mine.
So we follow our three characters Heather, Mike and Josh as they get lost in the woods, all whilst continuing to film everything that is going on…with Heather keeping a journal at the same time. When they first come across all the creepy witchy sticks/voodoo dolls in the woods they are creeped out, however as Heather states in her journal, when she cut one of them down so they had it as part of their found objects I guess, she was partly doing it to prove to the guys that she wasn’t scared…although they all clearly were. Cutting down the witchy stick was a seriously bad idea and after that things just went from bad to worse. Now I don’t know if you’re like me and love to go camping and exploring places, including dense woodland…when you think you are lost in the woods, especially as it’s getting dark, it can be a pretty freaky thing. If you were to walk a whole day to find you ended up back in the same spot, alarm bells, had they not been ringing by now, they’d be blasting in your ears at this point.
It is when Josh goes missing and they spend the day searching for him, to no avail and then night comes…and they reach the creepy house! The screams throughout the house as they desperately search for Josh, with only their night vision cameras to guide the way is creepy…and then you see all the kids handprints on the wall…CREEP…CREEP…CREEP… The tension is building up. Camera drops. And then the climax…Heather finds Mike standing in the basement facing the wall, she screams……END! *SHUDDER*
One thing that greatly puzzled me after this movie was released was the amount of people who said they didn’t get it. I didn’t understand, what was not to get? Clearly these people had not been listening to the mythology of the Blair Witch. Screw them though, that end scene absolutely scared the crap out of me, I couldn’t get it out of my head. The whole thought that the Blair Witch was real and that had been their demise. Utterly horrifying.
My being super creeped out by the movie however didn’t end there. No. This movie continued to haunt me for about a year after! Laaaaaaame, I hear you say. But no, there’s more. And this definitely comes down to my overactive imagination. And my perception of what the Blair Witch actually looked like. I was living in student house at the time and when I looked outside of my bedroom window there was this old abandoned house…totally Blair Witch house style, just smaller. Still creepy and effective enough to make sure that bloody movie kept on playing over and over in my head. So I would lie in bed at night, as you do…drifting off to sleep…still thinking about the bloody movie…and then I would wake up. When I did, the Blair Witch would be staring at me. Or at least my perception of the Blair Witch. Of course the Blair Witch wasn’t really in my bedroom, what was causing me to freak out was this black and white Nirvana poster I had on my wall. It was about 8ft tall by 5ft wide, roughly at least. When I would wake up, the light from the moon shining through my bedroom curtains would catch on the white parts of my poster, morphing Kurt Cobain into what I believed the Blair Witch looked like. It was horrific. I have a REALLY good imagination, and I admit, I do go a little crazy sometimes. That image though, it haunted me for ages. In fact, I’ve only ever watched the movie one other time. I had told one of my best friends how much it scared the shit out of me and when I came home during the Easter holidays we rented it out. So me and Bri (who is sadly no longer with us : ( and that is a whole other different ghost story) sat and watched it in his room on a bright sunny day…I figured, surely it’s not going to scare me now…it still did. And I have never seen it since.
And that people is why I deem The Blair Witch Project to be one of my scariest films of all time. This is also why when I found out that I had won a T Shirt on Cult Cinema Corner from Fast Custom Shirts, I chose this one. :)