neil’s review published on Letterboxd:
In the words of Roger Ebert:
"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."
I quoted this before and I have to say it again considering just how much more I was able to appreciate this film on a rewatch. The Blair Witch Project is not really a horror film. Atleast not in the conventional sense. What makes the film so gripping to watch is the palpable sense of realism on display here. Unlike most found footage films, the events in the film feel genuine and you kind of believe everything that's happening on screen simply because it doesn't try to bludgeon the audience with scares and information. In fact, there is an incredible sense of restraint that makes the film feel even more authentic.
The actual horror of the film isn't stemmed from the titular witch but rather from watching these characters slowly lose themselves to fear and anger untill there is nothing left but despair to soothe them. The real dread arises from gazing into the near ending stream of darkness that clad their surroundings at night with nothing but their deepest nightmares to keep them company. This might seem like a strange take but I believe that The Blair Witch Project is actually an experimental Arthouse film. It might not be what the creators originally intended for the film but the end result certainly seems to feel that way.
This is what separates The Blair Witch Project from many of it's peers and nearly every other horror film out there. The Blair Witch Project is scary because it feels unnervingly real. Upon my initial viewing, I presumed that the marketing was the main reason why a lot of audience members thought all of this actually happened. But now, I realize that I was paying the film a huge disservice by claiming so as it genuinely manages to look and sound like an actual found footage film which is a truly incredible accomplishment.