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The Blair Witch Project  (1999)



Cast: Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, Joshua Leonard
Directors: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez
U.S. Distribution: Artisan Entertainment
U.S. Release Date: 7/16/99
Running Time: 1:27
MPAA Rating: R

This independent film (produced for less than $50,000) is the year's most talked-about American movie.

Purportedly, three college students set out to produce a documentary on the fabled Blair Witch only to be lost and "hunted" in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland. A year later, their film is unearthed containing the last moments of their lives.

It all plays out on two cameras manned by the actors themselves. Near the conclusion of this powerful horror flick, Heather Donahue turns the camera on herself to express her sorrow for having led herself and two friends through the doorway of hell.

As interesting as it is unsettling, the movie is claiming remarkable numbers of repeat viewers interested in studying the film for further clues as to what is shown (and in many cases, not shown). After watching it twice, I am still uncertain as to what actually happened, although I believe the three students came to a very violent and horrible end at the hands of something supernatural.

Fortunately for this viewer and many others who enjoyed the film, what I saw and believe happened, and what several million other moviegoers did was left largely to our imaginations. Not surprisingly, for some horror cinemaniacs brought up in the age of Evil Deads and Screams, it is all much ado about nothing.

By keeping most of The Blair Witch Project a mystery and leaving much of it wide open to discussion, first-time directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez are being hailed by many as geniuses. At least some of the credit should go to Donahue, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard, the actors who ad-libbed much of BWP's content.

With all of the hype surrounding this little mockumentary (read: NOT REAL in spite of what you see!), you would think that everyone would be so sick of it that it would just go away. Newsflash: The film was being hailed as being one of the most profitable of all time after just two weeks of mostly limited release in the U.S. and three months later, it's happening all over again in the U.K.

It is one disturbingly original movie with incredible appeal. After raking in $140 million in U.S. theaters (280 times what it cost to make!?), the Blair Witch has been rushed into video stores just one week before Halloween. She will likely be around for many more to come.

© 1999, Delton Perrodin



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D.P.

deltonp@charter.net