Analysis Of The Blair Witch Project

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The Blair Witch Project remains, undoubtedly, one of the most successful and debate-provoking horror films. What is of interest to this study is the question of how this film was able to achieve such an impact, especially since it lacked Hollywood actors, special effects, or even a conventional narrative structure. How was this film able to touch such a nerve with filmgoers? Presented as a straightforward documentary, the film opens with a title card explaining that in 1994, three students venture into the Maryland backwoods to document a senior thesis project on the legend of the Blair Witch. These kids were never seen again, and the film you are about to see is from their recovered equipment, unearthed in the woods a year later. The entire movie is what they recorded of research and their adventures in the woods, leading up to their final minutes.
The film is set in the small country town of Burkittsville, Maryland (formerly Blair), a place where folklore lives through the local community. We are introduced to the town, its people and the local folklore through the lens of the three students, Heather Donahue, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard. These students explain they are in town to create a film about the most well-known of the local legends, the Blair Witch. After gathering information from the community, the students course into Black Hill Forest in pursuit of footage but soon find themselves lost. Tension arises as the trio becomes more desperate to escape and their fear is progressively fuelled by a strange sequence of occurrences. Haunted each night by mysterious sounds impending from outside their tent, the minds of the protagonists become less reliable. One night amongst the fear and confusion Josh separates from t...

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...d by the cameras during this final scene takes little away from our experience as a viewer. What the film is truly relying on is our own participation in imagining the implied horrors that unfold off-screen, thus playing on our fear of the uncanny.
Horror films that tap into our hard-wired instinctive fears probe a deeper place than movies with more sophisticated threats. The Blair Witch Project, an extraordinarily effective horror film, knows this and uses it. The movie is like a celebration of rock-bottom production values — of how it doesn't take bells and whistles to scare us. American audiences seem ready to embrace an unconventional film which breaks all the rules of Hollywood. The point-of-view camera work, the lack of predictability, the documentary feel of film and the use of what are essentially old, dramatic scare tactics, seem to be what makes it popular.
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