Monday, October 03, 2011
People may look back on it now as a gimmick film, but it should be of interest to any film fan that The Blair Witch Project was a true phenomenon. A dozen years ago, while horror fans were in the midst of slasher fare franchises the likes of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer & Urban Legend (amongst many other of the same ilk) came a little movie out of nowhere about kids getting lost in the woods.
In a time where the internet was twelve years younger and viral videos weren't commonplace, the brains behind Blair Witch managed to be in the right place in the right time with the right idea. Trick as many people as possible into thinking your fake horror themed documentary is a true story, reel in the free publicity, and try to make back $60,000 bucks. They managed to do just a little bit better than that and watched their no stars / no effects / no tripod film gross near $250 million in worldwide ticket sales.
I happened to be in California when the movie was in previews down there. My friend and I drove past a theatre with Blair Witch Project on the marquee and a line-up around the block. I had never heard of it, he explained what it was, and I was confused as to why anyone would care.
A few weeks later back in Ottawa, I sat in a theatre on a Friday afternoon with a couple of friends to watch the now much hyped film. I proceeded to be completely enthralled and petrified. I know there's some complaint in the inability for some to suspend disbelief as to why these characters refuse to ever turn off their camera whilst on the run for their lives through a scary forest. That point is valid. I managed to push that aside and completely enter the world that this was indeed a very real documentary about three dumb kids who try to make a documentary about the fabled Blair Witch and end up entangled in a fight for their life against... something. I have three theories as to what that something is, but I guess I shouldn't share them here on the off chance someone reads this who hasn't seen the film yet. It also didn't help that one of the characters names was Josh. That put me even slightly more in the centre of the action. I wasn't a camper before watching Blair Witch, but afterwards it certainly did't make me ecstatic at the thought of going camping in a tent in the middle of nowhere for fun.
At that screening, while the credits rolled I heard two women discussing that they couldn't believe that a film studio would allow for such a disturbing documentary to be shown. While working at Rogers Video I took three calls asking if the film was a real documentary. And, I have had three conversations in real life with people trying to convince them that it's fake. It was maybe the greatest pop-culture trick on the public since Orson Welles and his friends mistakenly convinced folks that aliens were invading in 1938.
So, tonight at 9:30 (Oct 3) we showcase The Blair Witch Project. Kicking off not only the Halloween season, but also a trio of scary films presented by Lost Marbles (and with prizes from Lost Marbles too!). Later in the month comes Critters (Oct 14) and Poltergeist (Oct 16 & 17).