The Blair Witch Project
All of this talk on Tuesday about Adam Winguard’s Blair Witch sequel got me wanting to pull out the original. I mean, let’s be honest – even for those of you who like the movie, when was the last time you actually sent down and watched it? I have a copy because it’s one of those things that I thought was important to have in my collection. The thing is, after that ending, there is not a lot of rewatch value there for me. We get the hook, but it’s all far less effective the second or third time round. And in the end, I don’t think it was meant to be. This is very much a first time viewer film – somewhat like the Sixth Sense.
One of the things that really strikes me here, is how rough the film is. The grainy cameras and lower resolutions really work building the atmosphere. These actors, they’re not turning out amateur performances, but they are giving very raw performances. It’s not polished, It’s not pretty. We don’t have perfect faces and makeup, we don’t have meticulously drafted dialogue, indeed it makes it more impressive that this film has so many memorable lines considering how very little was actually scripted. The method acting shines through. We get real tension here that is palpable – it’s the sort of exhausted exposed nerves that come from fatigue and hunger – remember, this film was made in real time… The actors really were getting woken up in the middle of the night by the production crew and by the end of this shoot, the daily meal (singular) consisted of a power bar in an apple. The heightened emotions and stressed out attitudes that you see displayed here are real. The relationships may have been assigned, but the camaraderie is real. These actors really did relate and bond during this production and it comes through. When you contrast this with Wingard sequel which… The 2016 film may have a shaky cam, but it’s production values are through the roof compared to the original 1999 movie. In the 2016 edition these actors are… Well, acting that they’re pretty. Attractive and put together, and well fed and pretending.
The original didn’t have this budget or it’s caterers. They stretched the actors and made them physically uncomfortable. It was renegade guerilla filmmaking and it brings into sharp focus how much more sanitized Wingard’s film is compared to the original – there is something dangerous about The Blair Witch Project. Remember how I said you can’t catch lightning in a bottle twice? The problem here is I don’t think anybody has really tried. They haven’t returned to the woods with this sort of passion and extreme filmmaking that characterizes this original… The studio and the union would never allowed that remember how I said that if you have seen the remake, it may be a sufficient replacement for the original? I take it back. If you’ve never seen the original, it’s worthwhile even if you hate it, it’s necessary as a horror fan to understand where this phenomena came from – especially if you can put it in the correct context of the time. For a group of people went down to the woods with next to no money, next to no experience, just a couple of cameras and a dream… The Blair Witch is a remarkable accomplishment