The Blair Witch Project
In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. One year later, their footage was found.
Fed up of the amount of found footage horror movies in the cinema these days? Can’t see what all the fuss is about? Well, if that person is you, and you have never seen The Blair Witch Project, this midnight screening is certainly for you. This film is what started the found footage craze and remains the benchmark for all hand-held camera based horrors. Why so? Well, because it is utterly terrifying.
Blurring the lines between fiction and reality, the film accounts the experience of three film students; Heather, Joshua and Mike. The three students live in the town of Burkittsville, Maryland, and the town is infamous for its dark local legend of the Blair Witch. Since the 1940’s, kids have wondered into the forests of the town and have never been seen again. The students, armed with a 16mm camera, a video camera and a sound recorder, embark into the woods to record a documentary concerning the legend. They went into the forest and were never seen again. A year later, their footage was found; this is that footage.
Released back in 1999, The Blair Witch Project continues to shock new and old audiences alike, with seasoned horror fans constantly revisiting this benchmark of terror, while novices to the genre seek out to discover an experience of primal fear and unnerving tension. Forget about Paranormal Activity, this is the ultimate found footage experience, guaranteed to stay with you days after you watch it.
Now the hype has finally died down, perhaps people can watch The Blair Witch Project for what it really is instead of what we were told it would be. The publicity promoted it as the scariest movie ever, whereas almost everyone who saw it thought it was about as scary as a slice of bread. Whilst it might not be all that scary, it is still both creepy and chilling, using only implication of what’s going on to create the tension - it doesn’t lose anything through not having explicitly shown violence or lots of blood. There were also some unusual techniques used in the making of the film. Not just the well known “camera-wobble technique”, but also that the actors were not really familiar with each other and were largely kept unaware of the overall plot of the film whilst they were filming. This effectively heightens the lack of intimacy between the characters and the tension they feel both towards each other and with their situation in the film.
So what’s the plot? Myths about the Blair Witch abound in Burkittesville which, incidentally, changed its name from Blair to avoid the memory of past events. Heather is doing a project on the stories, and needs some video footage. So she and two other students, Michael and Josh, go to Burkittsville with a sixteen millimetre and video camera to gather the stories of local people, and then go into the woods for two days to film some of the sites in the stories. Once they are in the woods, strange things begin to happen which bear an uncanny resemblance to the stories they have already heard. As the fear builds, it gradually becomes clear that the stories are true. There is something out there, and it’s not going to let the students leave alive.
Screenings of this film:
|1999/2000 Spring Term – (35mm)
|1999/2000 Spring Term – (35mm)
|2013/2014 Autumn Term – (35mm)
|2016/2017 Spring Term – (35mm)
|2022/2023 Autumn Term – (35mm)