I’m not a fan of horror movies. Jump scares and loud noises accompanied by gallons of blood and gore are mentally-scarring for me, if anything. But it’s not so much that I’m afraid of these things. Rather, I suppose you could say it’s more of a gross-out factor for me.
And while I’m criticizing all of these film tropes, that doesn’t mean I don’t find any of them terrifying. I guess you could say I prefer something more subtle. I believe true fear comes from the unknown; being in danger, but not knowing what that danger is. Most of us tend to find the mystery to be so much more powerful than the revelation.
So when I was considering what type of horror movie to watch as a way to kick off October and all the Halloween that comes with it, I wanted to go with something a little more classic and came across the Blair Witch Project.
I’d only heard of this film one or two times my entire life, and I had no idea what its plot entailed. I probably should have looked into why it was such a hyped-up movie, but I wanted to experience it for myself. Besides, fear stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding, so watching something I know nothing about seemed like a good idea if I really wanted to be scared witless.
Once I could achieve the right ambience (in a dark room alone at night with my headphones at max volume), I decided to start up the film. Honestly, it didn’t help that I had been sleep deprived for the past few days as well — or maybe it did. I was massively on-edge by the time I decided to start my adventure with this so-called Blair Witch.
Anyway, the movie began, and it turned out to be part of the documentary horror genre, similar to “Paranormal Activity.”
“Alright, I guess,” I thought.
“Is there going to be a minimalistic approach to special effects?”
Just to be clear, I’m often a skeptic when it comes to horror documentaries that try to portray the events in them as real. “Paranormal Activity” wasn’t believable to me, so I wasn’t expecting much from this film. Of course, expectations don’t always come true.
To summarize “The Blair Witch Project,” imagine you’re camping in an isolated forest. At night, you hear sporadic noises — footsteps, clanging, laughing, something indescribable. You’re worried, but curious. Would it be a good idea to look for where those noises are coming from? It’s dark, and you can barely see a thing. Nothing’s happened yet, but these sounds have been going on all night.
Should you close your eyes? Should you sleep? They’re close by.
Once morning comes, you discover ritualistic and cult-like objects everywhere — bundles of sticks, piles of rocks, teeth, blood and body parts are right outside your tent. They weren’t there before, right? You don’t know where the fuck these things came from. What you do know, at least, is that you’re not welcome here. You could be in danger.
Naturally, you try to find a way out, but after so many days, you keep ending up in the same area you were before, stuck in this God-forsaken place. You can still hear the noises every night. You’re starving because you’re out of food, you’re out of breath because you keep trying to get out and you’re out of hope because it looks like this is the end. You’re going to die. Whatever’s out there, it better just take you now.
By the end of this film, a lot was left to my imagination. The Blair Witch Project, as a documentary, was recorded in a way in which we could only see so much.
In the final shot, we see what the woman in the film is recording. She’s screaming, and she’s moving slowly but surely. Something must be grabbing her, holding her back, and she’s desperately trying to yell out for help.
I could hear my heart beating. My breathing was rapid and had no rhythm to it. I was horrified to the point where I was tearing up — I’d never cried due to being so transfixed by fear.
Once the credits rolled, I still didn’t know whether all this footage was staged or real. There was no invisible apparition moving, or flashy spirits and exorcisms. It was just what we could see through the lens of the camera, and everything was believable.
I probably should have checked the credits again, as it listed who wrote and directed the movie. Either way, I don’t think I can ever go camping in the middle of a forest again, lest I grow paranoid about becoming a plaything waiting for the sweet release of death.