The Blair Witch Project

When was the last time a movie crawled under your skin and died there? Depending on your age, it may have been NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or THE EVIL DEAD: Like those films, Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez's debut inspires an unpleasant mix of creeping dread and festering anxiety. That may not sound so nice, but many filmmakers...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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When was the last time a movie crawled under your skin and died there? Depending on your age, it may have been NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or THE EVIL DEAD: Like those films, Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez's debut inspires an

unpleasant mix of creeping dread and festering anxiety. That may not sound so nice, but many filmmakers try their whole careers without getting a real rise out of real horror fans. The setup is simplicity itself: A title card announces that in October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared

near Burkittsville, MD. A year later, their footage was found. What follows looks quite convincingly as though it was edited together from video and black-and-white 16mm amateur footage. We see Montgomery College students Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams (the actors all use

their real names) hike into the Black Hills forest outside Burkittsville — formerly Blair — to make a documentary for anthropology class about a local campfire story. Since the 18th century, the Blair witch has been blamed for a string of spooky apparitions, mysterious disappearances and

mutilation murders. It all starts out in the spirit of fun, with Heather doing corny stand-ups on various nondescript rocks and river banks associated with the legend. But that's before they get lost in the woods and find themselves terrorized by something in the dark, something they never see,

that scrapes their nerves — and ours — to the bone. Forget the self-referential scares of SCREAM: Myrick and Sanchez (who co-wrote, directed and edited) admit the influence of pop-culture detritus like '70s In Search Of mockumentaries, but their film is no schlock-fest. It's as

chilling as Algernon Blackwood's elegantly unnerving "The Willows," played absolutely, unsettlingly straight. Gorehounds and smirking fans of the nudge-nudge, wink-wink school of self-referential horror may be disappointed, but that's their loss.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: When was the last time a movie crawled under your skin and died there? Depending on your age, it may have been NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or THE EVIL DEAD: Like those films, Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez's debut inspires an unp… (more)

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