“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary. A year later their footage was found.”
Today is October 15th
Today’s film is 1999’s The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project sticks out in my mind for a few reasons. First is that, while The Blair Witch Project didn’t invent the found footage genre it did popularize it and is responsible for ocean of found footage films in the ‘00s and ‘10s. Second was the marketing which was viral (before we called things viral). It had its own website (not just an AOL keyword). There was a “documentary” on the Sci-Fi Channel and everything promoters did stuck to the idea that the kids getting lost was a real thing. I knew multiple people who were sure that it was real and even those of us who knew it wasn’t were excited to see the film.
Third is disappointment. I know plenty of people will disagree with me because it has an 87% tomatometer score and I know a lot of people who loved it. I left the theater with a headache and a bit of motion sickness. The reason I say I’m disappointed and not that I dislike the film is because I think it could have been amazing if it was edited down from 84 to 70 minutes. There are long boring stretches and while this may add to the found footage style it results in a movie you can lose interest in. Especially in need of editing is the Hi-8 segments which consist of long and relentless shaky cam shots made worse by a field of few that is far too narrow there by exaggerate shaky effect. I used several Hi-8 cameras in the ‘90s and they all had nice wide lenses – why is all the hi-8 stuff so tight in this film?
The good news is that the film is scary! You’ll have to sit through the boring parts and you may wish you had some Dramamine but you’ll be rewarded with a very creepy experience that will have you thinking twice before heading into the woods. Prime members can stream for free, just make sure to watch without distractions (like your phone) because the boring bits will tempt you.