4. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Super short entry on the film itself, because I watched this on vhs and therefore can’t do screencaps. There is also not much that is funny about it.
I decided to watch The Blair Witch Project because about 90% of the reviews of Paranormal Activity (which I saw last night) mention it due to the similar format of the films (1st person/”shaky cam”/mockumentary), and because, unlike seemingly every other horror movie fan I know, I absolutely love this movie. Perhaps it has become fashionable to trash Blair Witch because of its enormous box office success, but I consider it to be one of the most effective horror films in the last 15 years or so. Watching The Blair Witch Project as a 13-year-old was the last time I can remember being so scared by a movie that I had actually nightmares, even though I was fully aware that it was not real found footage.
There is a good summary over here, if you haven’t seen it.
As you know, I love horror movies, but rarely do I actually find them scary. The ones I do find creepy are generally those films that do more by showing less, which is why Blair Witch succeeds; although our heroes encounter their share of unsettling phenomena, the enemy is essentially unknown, and even at the end we are left without conclusive evidence as to whether their trials have been of supernatural origin or not.
The ending, by the way, is definitely in my Top 5 Horror Movie Endings list.
Apparently there is a short story by Karl Edward Wagner called “Sticks” with some significant similarities to the Blair Witch that sounds absolutely wonderful (read about it here, over at Tomb of the Headless Werewolf). Perhaps I’ll take a short break from movie-watching to read it.
A month or two ago I finally sat down to watch The Last Broadcast (1998), a film with a somewhat similar plot (people go out into the woods to investigate local legend). I thought it was awful. Some people prefer it to Blair Witch, and up until the ending it is merely okay, but then it switches out of its documentary perspective, reveals the killer (whom you should have suspected about 45 minutes earlier), and generally cancels out any good parts that came before it. The best part of the film is the creepy text-to-voice suggestion received on IRC to search for the Jersey devil. You can watch the entire movie on Youtube if you’re interested (here). Maybe you’ll like it more than I did.
Ability to scare me nine years ago: 8/10
Ability to scare me now: 6/10
Likeability of characters: 5/10
Anne rating: 7/10