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The Blair Witch Project
written and directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Dan Myrick
The Blair Witch Project
Principal Cast
Heather Donahue -- Heather Donahue
Michael C. Williams -- Michael Williams
Joshua Leonard -- Joshua Leonard
Bob Griffith (II) --
Jim King (IV) --
Sandra Sánchez (II) -- Woman With Baby (Interviewee)

Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

I usually give reviews a star rating, but I'm not going to do that in this case. I didn't enjoy The Blair Witch Project, but many people did, and if you like it at all, you will probably like it a lot.

You've heard the buzz. You know it is a low budget horror film that is now the cover story in Time magazine, a rags-to-riches tale I would be a Scrooge to resist. You know that the poster outside the theatre suggests it is actual footage shot by three young people who died in the woods under mysterious circumstances. If you watched the credits after the movie, you know it is really fiction, and that there was a whole production crew on hand for the shoot. A lot of gullible people seem not to have stayed for the credits, and still think it is a true story, but they are not the kind of people I am writing this review for. I assume a certain intelligence on the part of the folks who visit SF Site. So, there are two questions. Is it art? Is it fun?

The artistry of the movie is a subject the people who rave about it have seldom discussed. Yes, it is art. An actual film shot in the woods by three film students would look nothing like this. It would be slicker, and more arty, and artiness is the antithesis of art. The shots would be held too long. One of the students would have climbed a tree and shot the other two walking below. Instead of being arty, The Blair Witch Project is artistic. There is a good balance between tracking shots and very quick cuts. Our interest is held by juggling between colour and black and white, between day and night, between forward motion and circular motion. As a result, the hour plus in which nothing really happens goes by quickly. The acting is professional. But it is acting. We know from films taken on actual battlefields and during real disasters that people under stress seldom show us their emotions. It is the job of an actor to let us see and feel what most people hide. So, yes, it is art.

Is it fun? I didn't find it so, but then, it didn't scare me. The scariest fiction of my life were the stories told around the campfire at summer camp. When the counselor shook his hands in my face and shouted "You got it!", I jumped. I doubt that fiction will ever scare me that much again. I've seen too many movies. So, if you are still in that happy state where movies can scare you, by all means see The Blair Witch Project. But be aware that it has a very thin plot, much ad lib dialogue, and nothing ever happens on screen. What you imagine the film is like from the buzz is exactly what you get.

I should also mention that there is no clear supernatural element. It belongs to the lost-in-the-woods-with-rednecks-lurking genre of horror, like Deliverance (****) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (*). You can imagine that the rednecks are witches if you like, but there is nothing on screen that says that.

Why is this film so hot? I think Hollywood has gotten too slick. Even the most boring movie has a big budget and a high level of professionalism. Part of the appeal that 50s movies have for us today is that they lack that slick look we've seen too much of. The Blair Witch Project doesn't look like anything else at the multiplex, and I am willing to give points for originality, even to something I don't like.

Unfortunately, following the success of The Blair Witch Project, we can expect a whole slew of jerky, out-of-focus, copycat movies, until we begin to appreciate slick again.

Copyright © 1999 by Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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