Who wants to go on a camping trip now?
Brash student filmmakers Heather (Heather Donahue), Josh (Joshua Leonard) and Mike (Michael Williams) march into the woods near Burkittsville, Md., to make a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch, who’s credited with a string of heinous murders dating back 200 years. But the trio loses their way and soon find themselves surrounded by a malignant terror.
This is some brilliant marketing right here. Back in 1999 when this film was first being talked about, the filmmakers used the internet and word-of-mouth to actually make people think this was actually real. Although it wasn’t real, it’s still scary as anything.
The one real great thing about this film is from a technical stand-point its amazing. The use of camera-work is used so well because although it may be a little bit nauseating, especially when it’s moving all-over-the-place, you still feel like you’re right there with these three people, lost in the woods and trying desperately to find your way out. There is also no actual soundtrack, so the only real sounds are the sounds you would actually hear in the woods, which makes the scares equally as scary because everything here is all about noise. You hear the rustle of the trees, or the sounds of rocks hitting each other, and automatically the hair on your neck sticks right up.
Let’s also not forget to mention that this film is terrifying, without even showing anything. There is no violence, no blood, and no boogy man, or at least no boogy man that we actually see. This is what scared the most out of me because all the action that is happening, is happening off-screen and although we see nothing, our imagination is still running wild, which proves that sometimes what your mind makes up is even scarier than what you actually see. There was such a small budget here, or lack there of, but I still got more scared here by nothing, whereas many other Hollywood horror films do nothing to me. This just shows that showing nothing, can still work.
My only problem with this whole film is a little one, but still kind of took me away from the film. In the beginning of the film, Heather is talking about these books she read up on called “Surviving in the Woods”, but if she really read up on it, she would have known to just follow the way the water in the creek is going and eventually you would find land or something. This kind of took me away from the film since this seemed pretty reasonable, but then again, I still was involved with everything that was going on.
The acting from these three basically unknown actors is what makes this film work even more. Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams all do terrific jobs in their own parts because they all feel real. In a film that needed realistic acting, these three give that because all the scenes where they are talking, or walking, or just being scared shit less all seem real. Even though it may not be a “real story”, you still can’t help but admire how these three take their roles, and make it seem completely realistic.
Consensus: It may not be a true story, like the film suggests, but the scares here work because you see nothing, there is no big-budget special effects, and its all about feeling and atmosphere, which makes it all feel so realistic, and equally as terrifying.