I’m linking here to two essays from The Dissolve about what I still think is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen, The Blair Witch Project. First up, Mike D’Angelo:
Found-footage horror, which had previously barely existed as a genre, became so popular that it’s still going strong 15 years later; there are movies in multiplexes right now that only exist because of The Blair Witch Project. Shot for an initial budget that’s been reported as less than $50,000, it grossed just shy of $250 million (closer to $350 million, adjusted for inflation), making it one of the most profitable films of all time. Its two directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, were even on the cover of Time. Apart from Paranormal Activity—a direct descendant—there’s been no little-indie-that-could sensation like it since.
Oh, one more thing: America fucking hated it.
And then we’ve got a conversation between Nathan Rabin and Scott Tobias:
The one thing I like about found-footage horror films—and Blair Witch is certainly the gold standard of the form—is that they have to rely on the fundamentals. The film is scary as hell, but in the harsh light of day, we realize we’ve been freaked out by piles of rocks, stick configurations, and the flapping of a tent. Though I think the film actually includes some striking, even stylized, images—the angle on Heather’s face during that snot-filled confession, the discovery of the wooded area full of hanging stick figures, that utterly chilling final shot—the interplay between darkness and light, and onscreen and offscreen information. It doesn’t take a dime to achieve effects like that, either. Horror is the one genre that isn’t really helped by money being thrown at it, and Blair Witch affirms that as well as any movie I know.
The fact that some people were angered by the lie associated with The Blair Witch Project is ludicrous and has always been. All movies are based on a lie, especially in the horror genre. Once again, Happy Halloween.