Not even close. The conceit of The Blair Witch Project is this: Three eager filmmakers go into the woods of Maryland in search of material for a project about "The Blair Witch," a supposed woman who was exiled from the town of Blair during the witch trial era.
And today, the Blair Witch continues to ply her trade, as interviews at the film's beginning make clear - stories of massacred children and haunted houses have left a lasting impression on the residents of Burkittsville (formerly Blair, MD). All of this sets the stage for us, plus a textual prologue telling us that these filmmakers vanished, and what we are watching is the footage they shot, discovered in the woods a year later.
So we know up front that something evil is afoot, and in the 90 minutes of "discovered footage" we get to see plenty of it. The trouble starts when the trio gets lost, and their turmoil gets worse every day (as they seem to be hiking in circles) and every night, when ... something begins playing cruel tricks on them.
Captured on videotape, black and white 16mm, and (I think) color 8mm, Blair Witch is compelling as a faux documentary. (And yes, none of this is true, although most of the people in line and sitting around us weren't aware of that.)
But is this movie scary? In a word, and on the whole, no. Possibly a victim of its own hype, like Star Wars, Blair Witch has plenty of atmosphere and creepy scenes (mostly unseen voices in the woods), but it isn't that frightening. My wife is a big wimp, and she only grabbed my arm twice. Not until the grand finale does the Witch trot out the Big Guns, and I will admit that the final images on screen are some of the scariest I've ever seen.
Still, two minutes of footage does not a stellar movie make. The other 88 are okay, and often funny, but it ain't horror. However, for the horror buff or indie film fan, this is a great example of something, well, off the beaten path.
They went to the woods to suck the marrow out of life.
Run time: 81 mins
In Theaters: Friday 30th July 1999
Box Office Worldwide: $248M
Budget: $25 thousand
Distributed by: Artisan Pictures
Production compaines: Haxan Films, Artisan Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 133 Rotten: 20
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Starring: Heather Donahue as Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard as Joshua 'Josh' Leonard, Michael C. Williams as Michael 'Mike' Williams, Bob Griffith as Short Fisherman, Jim King as Interviewee, Sandra Sánchez as Waitress (as Sandra Sanchez), Ed Swanson as Fisherman With Glasses, Patricia DeCou as Mary Brown, Mark Mason as Man in Yellow Hat, Jackie Hallex as Interviewee with Child