|Fig 1. 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)|
By forcing the actors into similar positions as their characters, the film seem real despite the viewer knowing it's not. Most people can relate to the fear and panic of being lost or how lack of sleep or food can inhibit clear, rational thinking. Since the actors themselves were put into these conditions, their improvised lines feel even more real."Though the story was plotted very carefully, the dialogue was improvised. The raw, amateurish-seeming scenes that result... only pull us deeper into the film's illusion of what we're seeing really happened. The actors, who actually spent several days in the woods, eating less and less and never quite sure of what was going on, come apart harrowingly," (Rose, 1999). Seeing how fast people succumb to stress and turn on each other is frightening in itself.
The Blair Witch is known for causing motion sickness for the viewer due to the fact that one of the cameras (the one used most in the film) is handheld. Because of this, it is often hard to see what is going on and many of the scenes are focused on monotonous leaves, trees, and dirt as the characters wander in the woods. While this use of camera can cause motion sickness, it also increases the tension by forcing the audience to have a limited view of what is going on."The cameras, which can't capture the thing or things that go bump in the night, produce increasingly shaky images that reflect the nerves of the crew," (Travers, 1999).
However, there are portions of the film where we can see the characters and environments clearly. Glimpses of children's handprints on walls, hanging stick figures, and creepy abandoned houses give the viewer enough information to piece together that something bad is after the characters. Even just seeing Heather's panicked, tearful eyes as she apologizes to her camera for endangering Mike and Josh is more than enough to transfer her fear into the viewer. The camera wavers, Heather hyperventilates and cries, and makes a very real and relatable statement that she is "too afraid to close her eyes and too afraid to open them".
|Fig 2. Heather|
|Fig 3. Running|
The Blair Witch Project is evidence that even with a low budget and an idea, a great and inventive film can be made. While it may not be filmed using the best cameras or high end special effects, it grabs the audience's attention and makes them feel the stress and anxiety the characters feel. This film is all about the imagination, it's the viewer's imagination that creates the monster, the beast, supernatural force or psychopath. Some people may think it was the witch who got them, or maybe a ghost, the hermit or possibly even Josh just pulling a prank. The Blair Witch Project plays on realistic, everyday human fears such as the fear of the unknown and the fear of getting lost to engage and immerse the audience. By utilizing the stress of the characters to heighten the feeling of dread, the film creates a very realistic and relatable situation that is unsettling to watch, even if it is all fake.
Ebert, R. (1999) The Blair Witch Project At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-blair-witch-project-1999 Accessed on: 1/5/2016
Maslin, J (1999) Film Review; Vanished in the woods, Where Panic Meets Imagination At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C02E6D91E3CF937A25754C0A96F958260 Accessed on: 1/5/2016
Rose, L. (1999) Documentary Style Aids 'Blair Witch' At: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/blairwitchprojectrose.htm Accessed on: 1/5/2016
Thomas, W. (2000) The Blair Witch Project Review At: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/blair-witch-project/review/ Accessed on: 1/5/2016
Travers, P. (1999) The Blair Witch Project At: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/the-blair-witch-project-19990730 Accessed on: 1/5/2016
Figure 1. The Blair Witch Project [Poster] At: http://hiddenhorizons.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/blair_witch_project-poster.jpg Accessed on: 1/5/2016
Figure 2. Heather [Film Still] At: http://images.mentalfloss.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_640x430/public/blair_large.jpg Accessed on: 1/5/2016
Figure 3. Running [Film Still] At: http://www.thenightmarenetwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/blairwitch2.png Accessed on: 1/5/2016