Review: “The Blair Witch Project”

If you believe the early word of mouth, this film is going to be the biggest revolution in horror films of the past 20 years – sadly that isn’t true, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a highly original and well-made film which is one of the best of the year, and a welcome change from the recent slasher genre which most horror films seem to be classified as these days.

“The Blair Witch Project” is different as well in the fact that it doesn’t rely on sudden scares that make you jump but rather drawn out unnerving tension which starts at zero and finishes with one of the most abrupt and shocking endings that you’ll remember for a long time to come. The big question your all asking though is – is it scary?. Atmospheric? Yes. Gripping? Absolutely. Frightening? A little. Fear is such a subjective thing, what one person finds terrifying another laughs at and vice versa.

The only film I’ve ever truly been terrified by was “Arachnaphobia” because spiders are my absolute worst fear, but I’m sure many others find it easy to watch. People who go camping, hiking or are out in the woods a lot will likely be terrified by this. For the rest of us – well for a while afterwards you’ll likely have a chill down your spine, but that will fade away soon after and you’ll come to realise how effective a film it actually was.

Don’t be under any misunderstandings, this film is far more a drama about desperation than a scare fest. In fact the film starts with about thirty minutes of great comedy, then forty minutes of drama, then wraps up with about 20 minutes of horror. The cast is terrific because these guys do actually sound and act like their age and aren’t some highly self-aware teens who talk like they’re 30 years old.

Heather Donahue is just amazing as the girl of the group who is also the leader and finds herself cracking under the pressure near the end. The shooting on video camera, not to mention the sounds of the woods help create a great atmosphere to generate the scares. As for the witch itself, I won’t spoil it but even for a no-budget movie they could’ve shown a little bit more than they did – after all a little bit goes a long way.

I rarely touch indie films with a ten-foot pole (as despite what the elitists might tell you, the majority are crap), though occasionally an original gem will pop out from amongst the Tarantino wannabes and the sluggish family dramas. Blair Witch is one of those gems which prove you don’t have to have a lot of money to make a great film. Its also one which is definitely worth watching in a cinema with good sound equipment to get maximum effect.