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Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Blair Witch Project

Well, this is the final Saturday of the month of October, and I have to say that I'm very happy about that.  October hasn't been that great of a month at all.  Truth be told, if I were to rank all the months out of the year from best to worst, October right now would be at the bottom.  With everything going on with my mother, and the terrible tragedy that took place earlier this week, it certainly hasn't been an October to remember.

But since this is the last Saturday of the month, I thought that I would post at least one more movie entry.  And as promised, I would amp up the intensity of the films with each week.

However, some of you might be wondering why I chose this particular film to spotlight.  Some of you might not find this film to be very frightening at all.  Some of you could probably name at least a dozen films that are filled with more blood than a blood bank, more guts than a whale's stomach, and more violence than a standard episode of "The Jerry Springer Show". 

But do you want to know what kind of scary movies scare me the most?  Interestingly enough, they aren't movies like "Saw", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "Final Destination".  I don't particularly like gory movies to begin with, but even if I did, films like the ones I just listed above don't do it for me.  I mean, yeah, they do offer up a little bit of fear for all of the four seconds it takes to disembowel someone, but after that, it's like...that's it?

No, to me a true scary film is one that doesn't rely on blood and gore in every other scene.  In fact, some of the freakiest films that I have ever seen have been ones that do the exact opposite.  For me, a far scarier feeling is not knowing what will happen.  Sometimes, the off screen action can be scarier that what you actually see on screen.

And well, in this edition of the blog, we're going to be taking a look at one such film that succeeded in scaring people in the most simplistic manner possible.

It seems hard to believe that it has been a little over fifteen years since this film first debuted at the box office.  The exact date of its release was July 30, 1999.  It also seems really hard to believe that this film was made on an extremely tight shoestring budget.  The final total of the cost it took to make the film was a economical $25,000.

No, that's not a typo.  The film cost about as much as a brand new car. 

Now can you guess how much this movie made at the box office?  Go on.  Guess.  Don't know?  Okay, I'll tell you.

How does a cool $248 MILLION sound to you?  That must be one of the largest box office profits that has ever been recorded in the history of modern day film, right?  Not bad for a movie that was recorded entirely with handheld cameras, featured only three main actors, and was filmed in the style of a documentary.

This is the blog entry about "The Blair Witch Project".

The story goes like this.  The year is 1994, and three college students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams) decide to make a documentary on the mysterious legend known as the Blair Witch, and all three of them disappear under mysterious circumstances outside of the community of Burkittsville, Maryland.  Nobody knows what happened to them, and the mystery of their disappearance remains for one whole year.

That is until the following October, when the footage from their video camera was found.

So basically we're watching the possible moment on a hand held video camera in which three aspiring filmmakers meet their grisly end.  But here's the catch.  We have no idea who or what got them in the end.  Could it have been a wild animal in the woods?  A serial killer who escaped from prison?  Maybe one of the three filmmakers turned on the other two and s/he fled to enjoy a new life elsewhere?  Or was it the spirit of the supposed Blair Witch that caused all three to meet their untimely end?

To think that the film started off so innocently, with the three student filmmakers interviewing the citizens of Burkittsville (which interestingly enough was once known as Blair).  The townspeople all share their own personal stories about life in town as well as some historical events that took place centuries before. 

Among some of the little tidbits of information that the trio manages to get from the local townfolk (as well as a couple of fishermen who live outside of town);

- A serial killer named Rustin Parr earned a frightening reputation by murdering seven children during the 1940s in a little house in the woods, and Parr claimed that the reason why he snapped was because he was possessed by the spirit of a woman named Elly Kedward - the supposed 'Blair Witch' that was executed during the eighteenth century.
- A young girl named Robin Weaver went missing in 1888 for three days and when she returned three days later, she made comments about seeing an elderly woman whose feet were unable to touch the ground.
- At a place called Coffin Rock, five men were ritualistically murdered during the 19th century under mysterious circumstances.

Certainly these sound like impossible situations, right?  Well, as the day turns to night, strange things begin happening to the trio.  They camp out near an old cemetery where Josh accidentally disturbs a cairn that is set up near the burial ground.  They get lost trying to find their vehicle, camp out for a third night, and they soon discover that three cairns have been erected near their campsite.  Heather discovers that the map that she brought with her has gone missing, and Mike admits that he threw the map away, causing tension between the three filmmakers.

But when one of them suddenly goes missing, the other two quickly discover that the longer they stay in the woods, the more frightened they become, which leads to one of the most haunting climaxes ever featured in a horror movie.

But why spoil it for you?  Check it out for yourselves!

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