“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while filming a documentary… A year later their footage was found.” ~The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This is the fourth of 31 posts in a row on horror movies. Yup, it’s October, baby.
IMDB Summary: Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 87%
Why I love it: The simple genius of it. And the ending.
I don’t care if I’m the only person I know who liked this movie. The shaky camera makes people dizzy, Heather is annoying, it goes in circles, it’s stupid. Whatever. I watched this movie after staying up all night the night before bartending a New Year’s Eve party up in the hills, when 1999 turned into 2000. Luckily I have a huge gift for what they call “suspension of disbelief.” On the first day of the new century all I wanted to do was chill out with all the lights off and let myself be scared. And that’s what I did.
Mike, Josh and Heather go to the Black Hills of Maryland in search of the legendary Blair Witch. You’re annoyed by Heather the second she calls Josh “Mr. Punctuality.” Josh is super foxy. They film the townies who tell stories, including one about a guy who would kill kids by the twos. One kid would have to stand facing the corner and not look because the killer couldn’t take having any eyes on him.
They travel into the woods. They get lost, they find creepy stick figures and they argue. Mike goes crazy from being lost and purposely tosses the map, their only hope. Heather cries into the video camera and apologizes to everyone after Josh goes missing. What looks like his heart and teeth show up in his flannel shirt outside the tent in the morning. At one point she says she’s “not a happy camper,” which is exactly what a typical annoying chick would say. You can’t wait for her to die, but she’s lost and she does mean well so you feel bad. They hear wicked sounds around them at night. They’re hungry and completely fucked. By the time they come across an old abandoned house where they can hear missing Josh yelling, the situation has become a rolling boil of intensity.
What makes this movie scary is the fourth character, the one we never see or necessarily believe in. But clearly some kind of force is taunting them. Even the woods can be considered a fifth character. It’s like one big haunted house they can’t find the door for, like a gothic horror story. It’s Edgar Allen Poe. If you don’t think that’s scary, go ahead and pack three days of food and we’ll head off to a remote forest where I’ll drop you off right smack in the middle without a map in a spot where I know it’ll take you a week to find your way back to civilization. Oh, and where there’s known satanic cult activity.
There was no script. There was barely any money. It cost $22,000 to make. It made $240 million. Dammit! I wish I thought of this. So simple. You could probably do it on your iphone.
For the Cannes for the film festival the filmmakers placed “missing” posters around with the faces of the cast. People thought the movie was real. Brilliant.
And then there’s the ending…