The Blair Witch Project (1999), directed by Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick

Blair_Witch_Project♦♦½

I don’t really have much to say about this movie. Many critics raved about it, and it’s certainly popular, but it isn’t very good. The best thing about it, really, was its marketing, specifically the website created for it, which treated the whole thing, as did the movie itself, as if it really happened. It was a brilliant idea, but the brilliance stopped there.

I deplore the “found footage” thing — not on principal but because what I’ve seen of it is crap — but I don’t hold that against Blair Witch, which was the source of the modern wave. At the time, it was novel and vaguely interesting because of it. That’s when I first saw it, not long after it was released. And at the time I thought, Well, it’s all right, but nothing to write home about. Having recently seen it again, I came to the same conclusion.

I’m sure you know this already, but it’s about three kids who go into the woods to make a documentary about a local legend, “the Blair Witch.” They get lost, find strange figures made of sticks, hear noises, and become increasingly unglued. Ostensibly it’s all very scary.

Occasionally, it even is. But most of the time, it’s herky-jerky photography, dull dialogue, and decision-making that would make a typical slasher victim proud. Cause, you know, it isn’t real. It’s a movie. And it needed better planning and a much better script. Had it had those things, it might be fair to look at the later movies in the same genre and say they just don’t get it. Instead, they do get it: grab a camera and wing it. But the novelty’s worn off.

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