The Blair Witch Project – ZombieMall’s Review
First, I want to give you a little back story…
Back in 1994 three film students, Heather, Josh, and Mike, go to the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland (formerly Blair), to do a documentary about a local folklore legend called the Blair Witch.
They head into the woods to film and are never seen or heard from again.
A year later their camera and sound equipment was found, but not the students.
Over the next few years this found footage was edited and pieced together and in 1999 this found footage was put into movie theaters for the world to see.
I remember being in the theater to see it and it freaked me out. The entire theater was full of people and there was no sound at all. Not even anyone crunching popcorn or sipping soda.
I’m talking silence.
Then Heather exits the tent and starts screaming and running through the darkened woods, man, it was eerie. My heart was pounding, this was raw.
Now, let’s go back to 1999 for a moment. AOL (that’s America Online for you younger folks) was the chosen Social Media platform of choice. MySpace didn’t even exist yet. News didn’t spread as fast as it does now, and there was no such thing as Viral Marketing.
Guess what.. The Blair Witch Project CREATED Viral Marketing.
In June of 1998, www.blairwitch.com (please note that this link takes you to the updated version of the site themed for the 2016 release of the Blair Witch movie) was created but it was never advertised. It was simply made and it sat there. The developers did not want to announce to the world it’s existence simply so that it would
lend more credibility that this is something that actually happened. The website was presented in such a way that it looked like someone had put together a factual history of the Blair Witch legend.
When the film was taken to Sundance, flyers were distributed explaining that the three film makers, Heather, Josh, and Mike were missing.
Word of this spread, but it was in hushed rooms of AOL. Eventually as the release date for The Blair Witch Project grew closer, the media began to run stories. I can even recall two broadcasts in which the news anchors actually had a concerned conversation hoping that one day these people would be found alive.
No one knew what to think about this marketing. Was it real? It was advertised as a factual event that
took place. The news was reporting that it was real footage. There were even some movie theaters that
banned it from being shown because they felt it was exploiting the families of the missing students.
Going into the movie theater thinking that we may very well be looking at the last few living days of these students, well, it was down right creepy. It played into everyone’s imagination.
It was 2 weeks after the film’s release that it came out that it was all a fabrication. The missing students were actors and were very much alive and well.
It was a brilliant marketing move, which made the movie millions ($248million) and it cost right at $25,000 to make!
Not only did The Blair Witch Project create viral marketing but it also brought the ‘found footage’ genre into the spotlight. It is because of Blair Witch that found footage movies even exist!
17 years later, does The Blair Witch Project still stand up?
I received this DVD and watched it last night. I made sure to watch it at night. That’s when things are the most spooky right?
It’s been.. perhaps.. 9 years since I’ve seen this movie. I had it on VHS at one point (sorry kids, you’ll have to google that one) but yeah, it’s been a while.
Honestly, it was an instant classic back in 1999, and yes, it still holds up today, 17 years later.
It’s not a movie I could watch every week or every month, but it certainly is one that I am glad I now own on DVD. It will be watched at least once a year around Halloween.
When it was over, yeah, I still walked down the hall with a touch of caution. It’s the idea that there could
be something dark lurking in the woods. Tho, in my case, I don’t go walking in the woods at night because.. skunks.
But seriously, if you think you can handle this movie, watch it at night, then go for a midnight walk in the
woods. I promise you’ll start to hear things. You will feel fear.
The Special Edition DVD is loaded with special features.
Newly Discovered Footage: there is a scene that was restored and added to the extras, it shows the three students talking in their tent, but it reveals some interesting information.
There is a Director and Producer Commentary, LOTS of cool information learned here.
There are Production Notes that explain what all went on during the making of the movie.
It also includes the original theatrical teaser and trailers, and the best part;
a documentary called Curse of the Blair Witch. This is presented in such a way that it continues the
viral marketing campaign to make you consider that the events really happened. It’s most certainly
worth the watch.
The best part, in my opinion, is that the DVD also contains the Blair Witch website as it originally appeared back in 1998, 1999.
To say that it still stands up after all these years is an understatement. It takes a strong stomach to watch, not because of gore, but because of shaky camera. Those prone to motion sickness may feel some stomach urges.
Back in 1999 there were many people that started horking up all over the place in the theaters due to motion sickness.
The Blair Witch Project is categorized as horror, and rightfully so. True there is nothing overly graphic (there is one scene where we see a small piece of shirt that is holding some bloody pulp, hair, teeth, perhaps a bit of muscle), but the true horror is presented in the not knowing and by the presentation. By giving us this found footage look, it places us, the view INTO to movie, it makes us a part of the ride as opposed to simply being observers watching down. It ends with us not really knowing what happened to the three students. We are aware that something bad went down, but it’s ultimately our imagination that fills in that gap between what we just saw on the screen and what we decide to learn about the Blair Witch herself.
And THAT is what makes this movie continue to stand up. I went through every nook and cranny of the internet trying to learn as much as I could about this Witch just in the possibility that the movie I watched may have been based off of something that actually happened. And wow, did I learn some things. What did I learn?
Tell ya what, go watch the movie and then start your own research. You may be very well surprised at what you find.
Until next time, this is ZombieMall reminding you to.. Stay Scary!