Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Blair Witch Project directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez

The structure of this film is in the style of a documentary as three students travel to the woods to unlock the mysteries of the Blair Witch Project. The events are real time so the story progresses as the audience views it allowing a smooth flowing story to take place and also experiencing the unknown with the characters. "What gives the film much of it's force and it's mounting sense of queasy uncertainty is it's narrative method, which ensures that we know no more about the proceedings than the characters do and that our imagination play as active and ambiguous a role as theirs." (Rosenbaum, 2011) The evidence identifies how the sense of mystery is kept from the audience and characters so that no obvious hints are given to where the story is going. Rosenbaum talks as if the audience are also on the journey amongst the tension and anticipation of what could be hiding in the forest. The theme is subtle fear so the audience don't see what is hunting the characters but get the impression of the sounds and signals that close in around them.

Figure 1, (2011), The Blair Witch Project Still of Michael freaking out

The camera is mostly point of view through what Heather can see through the camera, making their journey more personal and exciting, wanting to document their discoveries. In this perspective, the audience can read a lot more of the characters emotions as they venture deeper and the signs of the witch slowly break them. Heather occasionally turns the camera round to show a close up view of her face as she is shaking in fear and crying, which allows audience to understand the character more personally. The camera view also gives the viewer the sense of moment as Heather is more instant to capture everything around her to describe the space she is in and form a story from them, also when heather is running or walking the camera judders so the viewer can experience moving through the forest. A  lot of this film was discovered through the editing, including the black and white sequences where the characters are in an enclosed space or during the night space, also the grainy effect as a character draws closer to the camera and tries to snatch it away from Heather.

Figure 2, (2011), Blair Witch Project Still of Close up of Heather

The strongest element that makes the story follow through the journey is the conflict between the characters, as the viewer can familiarise with the idea of becoming lost and alone in a space they don't truly understand. The film captures intense moments where the atmosphere between the three characters turns hostile and turn on each other when it is clear that they are lost and don't know what they are meddling in. There are points when the viewer feels that Heather should put down the camera but she can't because it is a journey that needs to continue. When Josh goes missing, Heather and Michael seem to form a closer bond as the danger is more exposed and they experience the fear and failure of their task. "The three actors manage not only to capture some beautiful footage but also to spout believable and consistent dialogue without digressing into the standard Scream pop culture references." (Lozito, 2011) The evidence indicates how the arguments between the characters are genuine and realistic because it is real terror and the fear of being alone and lost. This means that they begin blaming each other because the situation spirals out of control and their need to go home grows stronger that eventually all the characters experience but as they wander further in, this goal seems impossible to them.

Figure 3, (2010), The Blair Witch Project still of Heather through eyes of camera

The only hints that reveal the story are the strange objects laying around when they were not there the night before, such as the rock burial mounds, the stick men, the slime and the teeth wrapped in a bundle of twigs. All this evidence signifies that something is on the character's trails and hunting them but the structure allows this to flow out at a gradual pace to give the audience time to process what these symbols might mean and to take in all the sounds as the characters in the film are experiencing them and making them more on edge. It also allows the fear to develop to sections of the film where they are too terrified to sleep and their body movements become more shaky (clearly displayed by camera movement). The ending gives some relief but also more suspicions to what is happening. As Heather and Michael find an abandoned house with small hand prints and follow the sound of Joshua calling, the scenes become a bit faster and more climatic as they wander through hoping to find him safe from harm. However something stalks them that is unseen by the audience and firstly kills Mike and these sounds causes Heather to investigate as shakily walks down the stairs and investigate the source, at this point she is crying and screaming because she now knows she is truly alone until something attacks and kills her. The camera falls and then beeps off/ fades out to signal to the viewer that this is where the story has been left. "The Blair Witch Project is different as well in the fact that it doesn't rely on sudden scares that make you jump but rather drawn out unnerving tension which starts at zero and finishes with one of the most abrupt and shocking endings that you'll remember for a long time to come." (Franklin, 2011) The evidence clarifies how quickly the tension and emotion rate changes to reinforce the sudden ending, the success of the terror is not seeing the creature/s that finally kill the characters off and torment them throughout the film. The audience not given any visuals to base the fear around means the film more scarier as they don't know what to expect.

 Figure 4, (2009), The Blair Witch Project still of stick signals

Figure 1, (2011), The Blair Witch Project Still of Michael freaking out, @, Accessed on: 2011
Figure 2, (2011), Blair Witch Project Still of Close up of Heather, @, Accessed on: 2011
Figure 3, (2010), The Blair Witch Project still of Heather through eyes of camera, @, Accessed on: 17th October 2010
Figure 4, (2009), The Blair Witch Project still of stick signals, @, Accessed on: 12th January 2009

Franklin Garth, (2011), Dark Horizons - The Blair Witch Project, @, Accessed on: 15th January 2008
Lozito Joe, (2011), Big Picture Big Sound - Blair Witch Project, @, Accessed on: 14th July 2007
Rosenbaum Jonathan, (2011), Chicago Reader - The Blair Witch Project, @, Accessed on: 24th September 2007

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