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Monday, February 23, 2015

I was terrified to see this movie when it first came out into theaters. Even though I was fairly confident that all of the Internet hullabaloo was nonsense and that the film was fake, I still had this hesitation about the movie that I could not explain. If I had been alone in my thoughts, I would feel almost ashamed of them. But I was eavesdropping on conversations all around me and there were people, some were grown men, saying that they wanted to leave before the movie even started. So I knew I wasn’t alone, but I also knew I was staying.

When a professional reviewer reviews a movie, that movie must be taken into its own context. Many classics get parodied and raked over the coals for decades and those classics can almost be turned into pop culture jokes over time. Take The Matrix for instance; it is a great movie, but it has been turned into a joke. The Blair Witch Project is the same type of movie; it is innovative and excellent, but it has been turned into a pop culture punchline, which is a shame.

I contacted Eduardo Sanchez, one of the creators of the Blair Witch Project, several years ago and he was a nice guy. He was such a nice guy that he had nothing to say about the movie genre he and his partner Dan Myrick started that helped amateur film makers all over the world to make their own scary movies, basically ripping off his movie. When the professionals like JJ Abrams started to get into the “found film” genre, then I knew that the Blair Witch Project was an iconic movie.

I can call this film iconic because it is the first truly successful film of a new genre. But is the movie any good? When the movie first came out, the hype had created a tension that followed you into the theater. Not since Alfred Hitchcock did a movie have so much hype that people literally entered the theater already scared out of their minds. Before millions of people saw the movie and ruined it for everyone with parodies, this was one of the greatest horror and suspense movies of all time. So I will keep it in that elite list because, in my opinion, it belongs there.

All of the “found film” movies that came after Blair Witch, like Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, lacked a certain level of honesty that Blair Witch has. You just cannot pour a ton of money into one of these films and get the same results that Sanchez and Myrick got (Although the first two Paranormal Activity movies were done on small budgets, the PA maker had computer effects to use that Blair Witch did not have). I like Cloverfield and most of the Paranormal Activity movies, but Blair Witch remains the original for me and stands above all of those other “found film” movies.

There is a build up to the Blair Witch Project that is done extremely well and gets downright creepy after a while. If you have never seen the movie, I will not ruin it for you. But I will tell you that you should look for the children’s hands being pressed against the outside of the tent as our heroes are going crazy trying to figure out what is going on. It is some pretty intense stuff and it works very well.

It is hard to get people to understand a positive review of the Blair Witch Project because most people fall into one of three categories with this movie:

They have never seen it but, based on all of the parodies and complaints from people who do not like the movie, they just assume they won’t like it either and continuously give it bad reviews.
They have seen it and absolutely hate it for the shaky camera work, which I can understand. But very few of these people actually hated the story as well, which says a lot.
They loved the movie.

That means that the majority of people who did not like the movie did not see it. I may be wrong on this, but I have done my research. Either way, the Blair Witch Project is a classic suspense film that Hitchcock himself would have approved of. If you have never seen it and you think you hate it, the I recommend turning off all of the lights, turning on the surround sound, and watching the Blair Witch Project on the biggest television you can find. Then we can talk about whether you really hate it or not.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in maniac who is, at this point in the winter, getting stir crazy. His reviews appear each week and act as a feeble attempt to fend off insanity.

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