Rating: Rated "R"
There have been other movies made in the face of fortune and costing a miraculously small amount of money. The original "El Mariachi" (1992) was shot in two weeks for $7,000; "Clerks" (1994) cost $27,000; and "p" (1968) cost $60,000; and I found all three to be more entertaining and more original than "The Blair Witch Project," which came in at $100,000.
Now you might ask "Why are you so negative when the reviews are so fantastic?"
"Because," I reply, "I sat through the movie with about 25 other patrons, all of them under 25 years of age, and realized that the movie was aimed at them and their lives. And, I noticed, that not once did any of them jump in their seats (I almost dozed off at one point), and am quick to point out that an audience of much the same age group (and younger) shrieked during a recent showing of "The Sixth Sense." I hasten to add, all these movies owe a great debt to the original production of "Night of the Living Dead," the first black and white horror film that made obligatory waves, not to mention Sam Raimiís "The Evil Dead," actually shot in nearby Tennessee.
We watch Heather, Josh, and Mike head off into the unexplored Maryland woods in search of the Blair Witch, after interviewing some strange-looking locals and loading an incredible amount of equipment into backpacks.
Heather is a big-talker and frankly, I would have started telling her to shut up by the beginning of the second day. Iíve been told that the dialogue was pretty much left up to the actors and thatís probably one reason why the "F" word begins just about every sentence. Somebody should have told the director that the "F" word is quickly overdone and lacks any sense of shock value today. A shriek or a scream would have been far better.
Josh and Mike are pretty much gentlemen and hold back from telling Heather off until the childrenís voices are heard far off in the night, and the twisted packs of twigs and small piles of stone appear at the base of their tent flaps, the second morning.
Once they think they are lost, the three comrades use the compass (which Heather eventually loses)--but remember, for two of the three days the sun is shining--plus a map, and instead of following a flowing creek to the outside world, they cross it and wander around until the third of fourth day (I lost track) when they find an abandoned house and apparently meet their fate! You know there is something afoot because the crumbling plaster walls of the house and covered with the handprints of little children and by now everybodyís screaming.
Now the idea of any horror flick is to cause the viewer to suspend belief while watching it and even if you or I have doubts, weíre so involved in the story that doubts are quickly forgotten. Not so here! My original questions remain: Why didnít they follow the creek? Why didnít they film in eastern Tennessee or Western North Carolina where itís common knowledge that itís easy to get lost in the mountains? And why couldnít Heather have suggested using the sun instead of a compass? Why didnít they build a big bonfire? After all, they had matches to light up joints. And on and on.
Plaudits are given for the initial imagination used to begin filming "The Blair Witch Project" but never lose sight of the fact that clever marketing led to its continued success and not great movie-making. Now sit back and wait for the next project: "Blair Witch Project: The Sequel."
And so it goes.