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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael Williams
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
86 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Lions Gate
 "The Blair Witch Project" Review 
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Overrated.

Yes, I'm truly tempted to end my review there but out of respect for those who actually read my reviews I suppose I should offer at least a semblance of an explanation for why I consider 1999's "The Blair Witch Project," the low-budget wonder film from Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez which was originally budgeted at $35,000 and ended up grossing over $140 million in the US alone sparking a series of spoofs and one pathetic sequel.

I was looking forward to seeing "The Blair Witch Project." I'd heard enough about its uniqueness, and I've always admired the low-budget independent filmmaker so I thought..."Wow, a perfect combination. This will be great."

Then, I immediately became distracted by glaring technical mistakes. Sure, well, there was only a $35,000 budget...well below, way way way below the budget for many small, independent films. I could forgive a few technical mistakes. It's hard to reshoot mistakes when you simply don't have the budget to do so.

Then, however, I began to notice myself yawning. Hmmm. A suspenseful, horror type film and I'm yawning...I'm noticeably bored and cringing at the screams of one of the leads, Heather Donahue. Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams didn't help matters, and, ultimately, I found myself feeling restless and waiting for that moment of suspense...that glimpse into the horror I'd been promised.

It never happened.

"The Blair Witch Project" is not a horrible film. I've seen many worse horror films over the years, and the vast majority have been worse than this one. It isn't so much that I find "Blair Witch" a bad film...it's that I find it so remarkably bland and lifeless when everything I'd read from box-office reports to reviews to audience response offered me fear and anxiety and horror. I felt none of these things while watching the film.

Truthfully, I found myself much more entertained by the spoof, "The Bare Wench Project," a sexy, silly romp that made me laugh and made me smile. This film offered laughs only when the horror was truly disappointing and never actually made me smile.

"The Blair Witch Project" is, more than anything, a testimony to the power of marketing a film. The filmmakers took a random, festival type approach to marketing the film including a massive internet onslaught that put the film directly into the faces of the young adult crowd it was targeting.

The end result became history's most successful independent film and continues to set the benchmark for independent films in terms of box-office and marketing. I'm sure you've experienced the same feeling I have here...those moments when you look up at a screen or you read the weekend box-office receipts and you find yourself completely floored that a film has defied expectations and become a hit almost despite itself. "The Blair Witch Project" can lay claim to being the most successful independent film in terms of box-office percentages. When you think about it and all the incredible indie films available, isn't that just kind of sad?

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

    The Official Rating Guideline
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    • C: 2 Stars
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