The Blurry Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project made an institution of the "found footage" genre. It has been both derided and praised, as well as spawning a truly-appalling sequel.

The question is: is it any good? Hit the jump to find out.

The first film was a landmark in horror history in that it was one of the first movies to really capture what people are actually afraid of; it's not axe-wielding maniacs and brain-munching zombies, but unexplained noises in the dark and ghostly figures in the distance; the unknown.

The film-makers and trailers harped on about the possibility that this story of three amateur documentary makers running afoul of evil forces in the woods at night might be a true story; but the true story is that no-one cared if it was real, just that it was scary.

In fact, however, like Paranormal Activity after it, without the scares the film isn't really up to much. The completely ad-libbed dialogue and action ramps up the tension, but also leads to bizarre editing and nonsensical pacing as the directors regularly had to cut the action to tell the cast to go back and look at something left for them more closely or run screaming in a different direction. The film's mythology is a hotchpotch of random, unnecessary details and merely serves as an excuse to conjure the witch; not to mention the ending only makes sense if you remember a random comment made in the film's first few minutes.

Still, the first viewing is a visceral experience and it is hard to deny the fear factor. A classic of circumstance, but not of substance.

Spoiler Pirate says: Yaargh! Here be spoilers!

This random, tacked-on sequel may as well have been direct to video. The budget is low and the quality of the acting is lower. Nevertheless, the film has a few nifty ideas.

The concept of a group of Blair Witch enthusiasts on a tour of the film's locations is suitably post modern; and the idea that the are possessed by the spirit of the witch and black out for several hours adds a central mystery. The later discovery of video tape of the group having a wild orgy, then running off to murder some local campers is quite shocking; and the final stitch up the witch pulls on our heroes is also fun.

Still, the film is preachy, yet contradictory in its morals, often dull and suffers from regular slips in quality with script, direction and particularly acting. The only cast member to come out smelling of roses is the gothically-gorgeous Kim Director, who also turned up in the under-appreciated heist movie Inside Man.

Overall, both films are worth seeing, but not really worth adding to your DVD collection, except perhaps for drunken evenings and showing to friends.

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