Blair Witch Project

Dec 25, 1998
Anyone else see this yet? IMO it should have been called "Three Idiots in the Woods".
The female character, Heather had a fixed blade Buck (I think) and they trudged throught the woods lost for days apparently in circles. Never did she think to mark the trees with her knife. They were too involved with filming their own demise.
The biggest impression it made on me was a case of feeling a bit motion sick from the jumpy photography. I didn't feel it was as scary as a lot of people seem to think it is.
My only problem with the movie was that I sat in the front row of a sold out theatre after dinner, and almost threw up from motion sickness
FYI, the movie is a mock documentary, and is filmed camcorder-style for a lot of scenes... makes for some dizzy audience members

Intelligence of the hiker's aside, i thought it was an interesting movie; one that will probably bug me a little bit the next time i'm out camping. i've camped in some pretty remote areas in the Appalachian mountains, and have some seen some freaky $hit. I've seen symbols painted on rocks, crosses, stuff hanging from trees (much like in the movie) as well as sadly, a dog that had been hung/disemboweled. I think that's why the movie was so scary for me..

especially with stuff going on like that guy they caught in Yosemite... I think a lot of people fear the outdoors, and this movie played up on a lot of those factors (being lost, scared of noises in the dark.)

but that's also why i take a good firearm or three with me when I'm out in BFE, as should anyone with a head on their shoulders.

btw, i think it was a buck knife as well, though you never really get a good shot of it.
I thought the movie was ok. But it got a little repetitive after a while and I would not have gone out in those woods without a knife, .45, GPS, night vision, and topographical map. Also it was funny because Heather in the begining had showed all the books she had read but she didn't do any of the things that survival books tell you to do.
Thank you! I would've taken a pistol and a knife to the party. Heck, in this case, a Benelli shotgun and a neck knife back up.

Ah but this is fantasy.

I liked the flick, but not for the reasons the studio's marketing team offers.

I think it should be shown in tactical/survival training classes as an example of how teamwork mechanisms can break down in the face of a crisis. The kids in the movie are reasonably educated and intelligent, and think they are well prepared. When things start going wrong, things REALLY start going wrong. Equipment fails, maps get lost, people make stupid decisions. I've seen this happen in both the civilian and military sector and this movie had it down pretty good.

The subject of the kids' film, "The Blair Witch" was a good mission distractor ... while the kids are worried about her, other stuff happens .. stuff that they should be paying more attention to. I'm not big on supernatural threats ... imagining that they were being stalked by a two-legged predator (or a couple of them) made the film much more interesting than wondering if the witch would ever show up. The ending supports this, too.

In Robert Heinlein's "Tunnel in the Sky" the kids in the survival class are warned about "Tobor" .. predators that will feed on them if they're not cautious. Turns out that "Tobor" ("robot" spelled backwards) was made up by the instructor to put the kids off balance.

You gotta remember, when most "mundanes" go into the woods they don't carry a Glock or a 1911 and assorted Mad Dogs and Randalls and Spyderco blades .. or even a basic kit of water and flashlights and a decent compass. Read "Outside" or "Backpacker" sometimes ... they abhor the idea of carrying a piece in the tranquil forests. I'm surprised there aren't more instances like those tragic murders that took place in Yosemite.

Here in Kentucky .. back before we had the CCW ... if you didn't act like a jerk the local law enforcement would overlook the .22 Ruger or Combat Magnum peeking out from your vest. Still, I remember going hiking with people from college who were upset cause I had a J-frame in my pocket. "What if you get frisked?" one of the asked me. I looked around from the top of the knob we'd climbed, didn't see any uniformed officers .. and shrugged my shoulders.

Nowadays most of my friends wouldn't be caught dead (pardon the pun) in the woods without something in the 9mm or .45 variety on them.

Anyway ... I agree ... there's something to the "Three idiots in the Woods" theme there, but I think it's a very good illustration of how things probably go wrong on expeditions like these. (Read "Into Thin Air" sometimes .. about a screwed up expedition to the top of Mt. Everest) This is true whether you believe in supernatural gremlins or the human stupidity variety.

Two thumbs up!!!

[This message has been edited by DW Altom (edited 02 August 1999).]
I feel sort of torn about this film, I think it is by all accounts more important then it is scary. Important by the way it was photographed sure, but more so by the method of acting and script rehearsal involved on-shoot during the production. I usually have to see a film at least four of five times before I can get a real impression of how much I liked t or didn't like it... I need to watch every aspect of the film in separate parts, then in combination one last time before I can have a well formed and complete opinion. I mainly watch principal photography and Cinematography during my first screening of a film, and unfortunately the biggest problem I had with the film (so far) is the fact that is is atrociously lighted. I am NOT a fan of spontaneous lighting, and this film makes use of it ar too much. Most of the shooting is handheld, and although I greatly respect the need for it, numerous times throughout the film I was thinking about how much better it would have been with a simple SteadyCam or some other kind of body-mounted stabilization system. All in all, I think that this film is pretty much sure to have as much of an impact on the horror genre as George Romero did, as to say the whole notion of "Spontaneous Terror" will become almost so mainstream that it will have us all motion-sick in no time. Go see "Eyes Wide Shut", go rent "HEAT", but don't see this film unless you really want to see the somewhat unfortunate shape of horror composition in celluloid to come.

By the way, in case any of you were wondering: There is NO WAY that...

A. Film students would shoot in anything short of cheap medium for this kind of project. Celluloid photography is way too expensive and unstable to be applied to this kind of "Cinema Trek"

B. Celluloid reels would survive that much time out in the wilderness. It's called the "Vinegar Effect" and it is the reason most of this countries MGM treasures are now all but destroyed. Having been stored in salt mines didn't do anything for "GIANT" and "Star Wars", and these imaginary film reels would have been totally crystalized by the time anyone found them.


Robert Joseph Ansbro

If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.
-Stanley Kubrick, 1928-1999
Forget the motion sickness. My neck was seriously stiff by the end of the movie.

I found the movie fairly interesting. To me it seemed to play on group dynamics. Add some stress to an already weak team and the group tends to fall apart; with the consequence that decision making becomes progressively poor ... in this case with fatal results.

Don't be too quick to write it off as simple stupidity. I have seen some very solid seeming teams fall apart under unexpected shock. Its happened to me; and it can happen to you.

In our case there were eight friends and acquantances doing a night hike when one of the guys (whom I didn't know well - and don't care to know) though it would be cute to trail behind fire a few shots from a semi-auto pistol (no one was/or was suppose to be carrying firearms). The resulting stampede had people scattered/running all over the woods in the middle of the night.

It took over an hour to round everyone up; and we were very lucky that no one was seriously hurt (damage limited to minor bruises and cuts). We even manage to restrain ourselves from lynching the idiot (although he no longer goes camping with any of us).

Anyone who needs more examples could read any of the accounts of failed mountaineering expeditions. As for wild witched and things that go bump in the night... there is always something to surprise us in the woods. That's part of what makes it interesting and enjoyable. Just make sure everyone is comfortable with the situation, and be extra cautious around large groups.
I have to say that I strongly, strongly, strongly disagree with the folks who objected to the movie because of the lack of wilderness-preparedness of the characters.
I think that that's 90% of what made the movie so touching, or rather, managed to suck the audience in so immediately into this world.

I think that the directors should be highly commended not only for groundbreaking work, in terms of the process they went through with the actors, but also to show that it is possible to make a blockbuster-scale success of a movie, with no possibilities for a derived sequel. They made a mark, showed that this could be done, then gave it to the world. There's nobody else that can try to use the Blair witch style. It won't work. Ever again. And it's amazing and exciting to see that level of concept and such a thorough approach to the filmmaking process.

Whether you believed it or not, the whole idea that the movie was real footage, etc, captured the public imagination. The directors/ marketing people (whoever) managed to create a sense of drama/ theatre that transcended the experience of seeing the movie. That's brilliant.

I'm sorry that not everyone got what I did out of the movie. As an aspiring actor,I'm sure my agenda is somewhat different when watching things. But I can't help but think that those members wanting to see three nature experts thrashing their way through the forest and having absolute calm and methodical certainty when dealing with a perceived threat really just wanted to see a camping instruction video instead of an engaging exploration of the psyche under stress.
I mean, yes, they could have used some landmarks, triangulated out their position, and boom, been back at the car before night fell. (I was my group's navigator, backpacking in the Rockies at Philmont Scout Camp).

But then what would the movie have been? About 45 minutes shorter. And what would have been achieved? nothing. no, I'll take my scared people, running with shaky cameras, and flinch when my blinds shake in the wind, because a movie managed to capture my imagination.
I haven`t seen it yet but a reliable fellow I work with claims to have an article written by an investigative reporter on the Blair Witch Project. Apparently he went to the present day town (whos name escapes me) and checked through the hall of records, interviewed people etc. and it seems that the town was never named Blair and that no one knew about any witch legends! Finally they said that the town "residents" that were seen in the film didn`t live there. In such a small town they said everyone knows everyone else and their business and they didn`t know anything about all this witch stuff or any kids making a film. I dunno if it`s true or not but I found it interesting. Marcus
My take is that the movie sucked. I mean it REALLY sucked. Yeah, you can say all you want about team dynamics falling apart (but that was a given seeing as how one of the guys was unknown to the others), but it really comes down to common sense. What the hell was that map they were using, anyway? It looked like the ones I had to study in Geology that showed elevations and U.S. Geological survey markers instead of notable landmarks, etc. Heather never EVER used her knife, and the fact that they never set up watches until something like the third day of being creeped out is also another big mistake. There are very few things that are creepier than everyone waking up at the same time b/c they hear something going bump in the night. Heightened hysteria is just unbearable b/c there's no one you can lean on for support. Apparently, they didn't even notify the local authorities where they'd be, didn't consult w/ any Park Ranger types, and hell, Heather didn't even mark out routes on the map. Now some of you are thinking, "yeah, but they're AVERAGE people who weren't going to be but a few days and weren't expecting to die or get lost." That was exactly their downfall. Not the average part (I'm "average," I'm not some backwoods survivalist, just a middle-class schmuck who enjoys camping every once in a while), but the not expecting to be out more than a few days and get lost part. They kept saying, "You can't get lost in America anymore." That complaceny, combined w/ their lack of other common sense stuff, and of course, the Blair "witch," made for their demise. But that isn't the part that pissed me off the most; it was the ending. Man, I expected some cut scene w/ a subtitle saying "Two years later," w/ some other hikers/campers wandering into the house and finding the cams. It was kinda creepy, but not like the first Poltergeist, the Excorcist, or your typical goosebumpers. It really just pissed me off how stupid those three were. No guns, didn't use a knife, complacent, they could have even bought or borrowed a GPS to help them out (they were commonly available in '94, right?). Instead, it was all about the filming of every minute (and what was w/ the jackhammer cinematography, a touch of "realism?"), even at the expense of their own safety. Ugh, too much complaining...
Well, first of all the whole thing is completely made up. The people stumbling around in the woods were filming a movie in that manner for a reason; they couldn't afford anything more. The film-makers sold the project to others who slyly set up a web-site far in advance and built publicity by acting as though it were true that students dissappeared etc. The whole thing is a great example of modern marketing skill and the influence of the web in marketing and altering perceptions. The movie itself is remarkable mostly for achieving horror cult status without hacking and blood etc, just psychological terror. But it is amazing how many people believe the story is true.

[This message has been edited by Brian Lavin (edited 03 August 1999).]
Hey, I didn't know about the website being setup well in advance, that was smart. I've never visited it, but I saw it b/c so many folks had said, "It is such a good movie, bla h blah blah, it's like the Excorist, blah blah blah." I figured I'd go watch a matinee, and I'm glad I did. I figured the story was at least loosely based on real disappearances, since the story's based in New England, the land of creepy things (Jersey Devil, Ol' Slipperyskin, Will O' the Wisps, Skunk Ape, Bigfoot variations, etc.).
Yup...the Blair Witch is prob. the fastest-spreading Urban Legend that I can remember...It's not real, but the two guys who made the film advertised the film as a documentary instead of a mockumentary. Essentially, the film was made in New England with th three unknown actors. The two makers of the film (forget their names) gave the actors a few cameras, and told them to go into the woods. Over the period of shooting, the film makers would leave new camera batteries and new pieces of the script for the actors to find. It wasn't shot scene-for-scene as a majority of "Hollywood" movies are, and the actors were in the "woods" for quite a while. In my opinion, if you were raised on the shock cinema horror flicks of Halloween, Friday the 13th's, etc etc, then you probably won't like this movie, as there are no bloody visuals...


I haven't seen it yet either, I'm sure I will just to see what all the hype is about, but as to a sequel...

In true Hellywierd fashion, if it shows any signs of success whatsoever: "Oh, we always envisioned this as a story arc that spans at least 3 trilogies..."

Give me a break.


[This message has been edited by VideoJoe (edited 03 August 1999).]
The nature of box office aesthetics is purely to suck every ounce of ingenuity out of something, make it mainstream, saturate the theatres and video stores with similar projects, and move onto something new. I know for a FACT that the hype of this film has (contrary to some other opinions in this thread) already built a very strong and very final relationship of sequels and similar productions with the two directors / writers of this film. If you think that it might not work again, then you're right. But, if you think that no one will try, again and again and again, then you're wrong. Horror is one genre that actually NEEDS some new blood, and even though the new blood might all but dry up in a few months in the eyes of viewers and critics, it doesn't matter: This is the way it will be in horror for quite a while, sorry.


Robert Joseph Ansbro

If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.
-Stanley Kubrick, 1928-1999
I haven't seen it yet either, but if you want a little taste of it, there is going to be something on TV soon called "Blair Witch", and it might have something to do with the movie.

"All of our knives open with one hand, in case you're busy with the other"
resp to dano

just a little clarification.
The film was made in 8 days. The actors got a 2-3 day crash course with the cameras. Then, they were all equipped with GPS devices. Every day, they were assigned to go to a specific location using the GPS. There, they would each get a roll of film, and each would get directions for what they were supposed to do. The directions would be along the lines of, 'make sure Seth has the camera when you go into the clearing' and that kind of stuff. None of the actors knew what the others were doing, or what the other knew. It was an exercise in directed improvisation, and that's why everything was so immediate and accessible to the audience. To some degree, the actors were experiencing the story. By the end of the week, the directors cut down their food supply, and were keeping them up increasingly at night. So sleep deprivation, hunger figured into the performances towards the end of the story, as they figured in with the characters' actions.

Again, to disagree with those of you that object to the movie because the people in it didn't follow a logical course, I really think you are seeing the wrong kind of movie. If you want characters that make logical, calculated actions in times of extreme duress, than I can guarentee you're going to be annoyed/ frustrated by any movie of the horrow genre. How many times have you wanted to shout "don't go in there" in a horror film? And yes, it's stupid to walk around in a dark house with no weapon, etc. etc., but that's somewhat part of the style. The characters aren't supposed to be these experts who are trained to handle every situation.

Don't blame the movie for not being what it isn't. It's too bad that you weren't able to enjoy the movie for what it is. My advice, though, is that if you're looking for the things it seems you're looking for, then you likely need to make more informed choices in which movies you choose to see. I can understand objections to the shakey-cam as a stylistic choice, and that's something that doesn't bother me aesthetically. But watching a horror flick and screaming and kicking because the characters aren't making the logical choices-- it just seems like you're seeing the wrong movies.

my thoughts.
i've camped in some pretty remote areas in the Appalachian mountains, and have seen some freaky $hit. I've seen symbols painted on rocks, crosses, stuff hanging from trees (much like in the movie) as well as sadly, a dog that had been hung/disemboweled.

Um, TomMarker, where did you say you were camping in the Apps? I mean, general area? I would like to avoid that if at all possible.

I have been to a couple of out-of-the-way places along the Appalachian Trail, and a couple of rather deserted areas of WV, and never ran into anything more threatening than a black bear. The first time I see something like you mention is the last time I go there, and probably the last time I go into the woods with anything less than a 9mm.

Work hard, play hard, live long.