For better or for worse, The Blair Witch Project was truly a game-changer for cinema. Not only did it kickstart the found-footage sub-genre (at least for mainstream cinema) but also served as proof that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a great movie.
After its initial release, the film baffled audiences, especially when it came to figuring out if the events seen on screen were actually true or not. Although debates were sparked across the internet about the legitimacy of the events, modern audiences are almost painfully aware of the fact it was fictional.
Keeping that in mind, how does it hold up in a modern horror environment? Well… surprisingly well, as it turns out; it’s easy to see why some were fooled into believing it to be legitimate. For starters, the acting is VERY convincing. All three actors give really believable performances, but Heather Donahue in particular is just great — especially in her apology monologue.
In addition to the acting, the overall vague nature of the film does wonders as far as believability goes. So many found-footage movies will show too much or explain away more than is needed. In contrast, Blair Witch shows just enough to keep the intrigue going while ramping up the suspense using the fear of the unknown. It’s that vague nature and the performances that give it quite an immersive nature.
Obviously it’s not perfect; the sub-genre itself doesn’t really support character development or pacing. But overall, what makes Blair Witch stand out from similar films is how it respects the format. Instead of using the genre as an excuse to make a cheap or bad film, it’s intelligently written, most notably with the chilling ending and its clever call-back.
Overall rating: 8/10