Sunday, October 1, 2017

31 Days of Halloween 2017: The Blair Witch Project

Starting in 2011 we (Marmy and I, as Kent is not that much of a horror fan) enjoyed celebrating the Halloween season (as soon as the candies hit the stores) by watching too many horror / Halloween related movies, most of them bad.  2012 had a few flicks but not the full month. Un/Re-employment kill 2013. Apathy killed 2014. But we returned in 2015 with a full run. 2016 had a good start, but stalled in the last few days, likely due to work life. This year almost started with a fizzle, but then I remembered last night, "It's October 1st !"

1999,  Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez (not really much since) -- download

I saw this movie in the initial run, blind, via a free ticket from Marmy's TV station. I had no idea what was going on when I went in. Remember, in the late 90s, there was Internet Hype but the machine wasn't yet all pervasive. And there was not an established genre of "found footage". I fell right into the plot, the rough style and the fear. I was a guy brought up in the woods, so I knew very well the idea of being in a tent and getting spooked by every crack, cry and whistle in the woods. And I didn't even need myths or folk tales to make me scared.

But here I am almost 20 years later watching a bad download of a fullscreen format movie (was it fullscreen back then? really? it was a video camera, so....) with the weight of almost two decades of people trying to recreate the hype AND almost two decades of listening to people who didn't buy into the premise, especially if they didn't see it during the original run. Post-hype, the movie just does not stand up. This is a movie best scene with little to none background on it. It does not hold up well to scrutiny now.

But I still liked it. I like how they let the stress of these filmmakers ratchet up the tension in you so that when they start to break down, it seems natural, and you may buy into it. Face it, these kids are dicks. They go into the woods unprepared, without any real plan of where they are going. She never admits she doesn't know where they are going, and they never actually find the graveyard where the witch was known to haunt. In fact they never find anything really witch related. Sure, there are all the fetishes and stone cairns that cement the fear in them, but nothing truly witchy happens. Its more psycho hillbilly stuff, owing more to the followup story about the man who killed children in his basement and the ... woodsmen who are found murdered.

Much of the post release hype has been around the ambiguous ending and what exactly happened. It left it to the viewers to explain themselves, and while I am eager to buy into the explanation that Josh (the camera man) was the likely culprit and murderous friend, I am not sure you can truly accept that from what we get. For one, who would have done all the weird sounds of children crying and cackles in the dark? And of course, if we are going to go with that, we need some sort of motive. We are never given that.

I am left knowing we will continue with the sequel and the NEW one, but already knowing the second sucked. But tomorrow will tell.