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Storytelling & Commission: From Script to Screen

The Blair Witch Project (1999)


Directed by Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez.

Cutting Edges Film Review

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The Found Footage genre wouldnt have been as popular today with the likes of The Paranormal Activities, Quarantine, R.E.C and Cloverfield; if it wasnt for the Blair Witch Project. Made by only a few youngster on a low budget this film is about three friends who head out into the woods filming a documentary about the supposedly Blair Witch in the town of Burkittsville. The recording is based in the hands of those people and switches between colour and black & white film, which gave an eary effect throughout the film. The handheld camerawork - on both videotape and film - creates a real in-your-face feel that extends the mounting anxieties experienced by the characters to the audience. (Barclay, 2000) The characters are all very different, the girl acts like the boss throughout just wanting to capture every moment on tape whereas the men as just along for the ride; taking the orders and doing as she says. This slowly changes when the map is lost, and they each slowly turn on one another. The directors Myrick and Sanchez wanted the film to feel realistic, and they definitely convey this; as when they all start arguing about being hungry and tired you genuly feel for them all. You dont actually see the witch throughout the film but from all the talking and asking villagers about this myth, the three friends start to think could it be true?

When the chaos starts. Roger Ebert says: At a time when digital techniques can show us almost anything, "The Blair Witch Project" is a reminder that what really scares us is the stuff we can't see. The noise in the dark is almost always scarier than what makes the noise in the dark. (Ebert, 1999) This film brings you to the edge of your seat through the use of nothingness, black scenes with only faint sounds in the background and the fact the camera is moving all over the place builds up the tension even more. Where the camera is handheld the directors has picked up on close-up shots that clearly show the sheer panic in the characters faces. Especially in one scene where Heather apologizes and sends a farewell message to their families, she starts crying inside the tent and the noises begin again. Youd never not believe that the film was filmed in front of a director by the realism of fear. Myrick and Figure 2 Sanchez hired three unknown actors who were skilled at improvisation. That's because the actors were sent into the Maryland woods with only the barest bones of a story and asked to make up the dialogue as they went along. Sanchez and Myrick also taught them how to operate the camera and sound equipment. That handheld, home-movie feel is for real. (Travers, 1999) The small details like that, that makes this film creepy and at the time a great horror. The ending is something you come back from and think Oh no, I know what happened to them after what you heard from villagers myths, about the witch leaving the children in the corner of the rooms, facing the walls awaiting their death. It ends with Heather and Mike coming across a abandoned cabin and heading in to find Josh as he went missing. Only hearing sounds of screaming do they venture in. The chances of anyone going camping soon after seeing this film are highly doubtful.

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Bibliography:
Text: Barclay, Ali. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/10/23/blair_witch_project_1999_review.sht ml (Accessed online on 18th Feb 2014) Ebert, Roger. Available at: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-blair-witchproject-1999 (Accessed online on 18th Feb 2014) Travers, Peter. Available at: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/theblair-witch-project-19990730 (Accessed online on 18th Feb 2014) Images: Fig 1. The Blair Witch Project (1999) From: The Blair Witch Project. Directed by Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez. [Film Poster] American. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/8rdnMoESwDo/TWUMxW5yexI/AAAAAAAAAwc/IKC28XLnqsE/s1600/The%2 BBlair%2Bwitch%2Bproject%2Bfilm%2Bposter.jpg Fig 2. The Blair Witch Project (1999) From: The Blair Witch Project. Directed by Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez. [Film Still] American. http://www.simonprior.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/blairwitch1.jpg Fig 3. The Blair Witch Project (1999) From: The Blair Witch Project. Directed by Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez. [Film Still] American. http://mos.totalfilm.com/images/t/the-blair-witch-remake-project--430-75.jpg