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E.C. McMullen Jr.
Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Starring Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, Joshua Leonard.
Every once in a while, comes a movie that makes you feel younger.
Wait, wait, wait, what the hell is that, the latest Meg Ryan / Robin Williams saccharine special?
Uh - uh.
When I say younger, I mean waaaaay younger, as in back to those not-so-enchanting times when you were a mere toddler and terrified of the dark. Yet I feel I should warn you right away: those expecting The Most Scary Experience Of Their Lives will be sorely disappointed.
And they'll be wrong.
Many horror movies start with a bang, leaving the viewer no doubt that he's got the right theater (and giving anyone who got lost in the multiplex a chance to get out before it's too late.) Think for instance about that scary opening scene in SCREAM. No matter how many laughs came in afterwards, you could never forget what kind of movie you were watching.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT takes the opposite way. Indeed, the first half hour of the movie is surprisingly funny. Anyone who missed the opening credit might be excused to think they did stumble on the wrong show. After a while the laughter will become increasingly nervous, and increasingly scarce.
Until it stops.
Which will be around 45 minutes into the movie. Projectionists should be able to set their watches by it: "Is it ten already? I just heard a collective "Gulp" in theater #2."
I will not tell you anything about the plot here. You probably already know enough as it is, and if you don't, all the better. Watching THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT without any kind of expectation is the best way to enjoy it. In fact,
this movie works best seen:
Of course, whether you manage to fill the above requisites or not, you will still
be seeing a very good movie. But wait a minute, "documentary / psychological drama"?
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT has quite a lot in common with Robert Wise's version of THE HAUNTING. Like the 1963 movie of Shirley Jackson's novel, it blurs the line between supernatural events and subjective reactions. Putting the emphasis on characters psychology, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT suggests that horror can spring as much from the inside than the outside.
As the Jan De Bont big-budget remake of THE HAUNTING looms on the horizon, (making some already nervous, though not for the right reasons), it is nice to know that, thanks to a small indie movie, America is about to rediscover subtlety.
Relying on faint sounds, off-screen events, always suggesting but almost never showing, the movie unnerves you more than any Teen, Tits & Terrors fest whose best thrills are provided by the soundtrack. And unlike those, after seeing THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, it is very difficult to shake off the unsettling feeling that has crept up on you.
Because this movie is sly.
The worst horror is the one you can't identify. You knew it as a kid; back when you feared the dark, where things you never had a clear idea of could be waiting for you.
You thought you had outgrown this, didn't you?
See THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and find out how wrong you were.
4 Shriek Girls
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