Cult classics like The Blair Witch Project usually receive pretty polarized reactions from horror movie watchers. There are legitimate criticisms and compliments for it. However, The Blair Witch Project’s success does not come from it’s quality, but it’s content. The movie’s mediocrity is what makes it such a cult classic. The movie’s creators set out to do only one thing with the movie: convince you that it is real found footage of a group of college students being haunted by the blair witch. Their success in doing so is what allows The Blair Witch Project to stand the test of time.
The introduction to the film is a short paragraph that states that the footage the movie is compiled of is “found footage”. This is crucial to the realistic nature of the movie as a whole. As the story begins you’re lured in by the difference in filming techniques compared to the way horror movies are usually presented. The clips are filmed and stitched together as if the creators are indeed amateur film makers. The movie is presented to the viewer as real.
The movie’s main characters, Heather, Mike, and Josh, are all students who decided to film a documentary investigating the legend of the blair witch in Burkittsville, Maryland. They set out to do this, interviewing the townspeople and even venturing into the woods where the supposed blair witch resides. After the first couple of days, they get lost and start to argue. The character development creates a realisticness that grabs the audience’s attention from the beginning. The complexity of human emotion is evident as the 3 characters switch from anger, to fear, to calm when dealing with the supernatural forces haunting them and each other. Different emotions are constantly surging through them in these new situations, and the actors do an excellent job at doing what anyone would in the same situation.
Many have criticized the movie for never showing the actual blair witch. However, the filmmakers intentional choice to not include the blair witch is crucial to the story. If the audience were to be shown some cheesy witch in makeup, or perhaps a CGI witch, it would most likely ruin the quality of the movie. Instead, the movie preys on the fear of the unknown that is instilled in everyone. The cliffhanger of what the blair witch it or what it looks like is what raises so many questions and theories; and is what has kept this movie alive for so long..