The Blair Witch Project
Directors: Daniel Myrick & Ed Sanchez
Stars: Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, Joshua Leonard
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Another one of the horror titles Lionsgate is re-releasing for Halloween on October 5th, this title is well known to any horror fan worth a damn. Some love it, some hate it, very few are indifferent towards it, but does it really need to be out on Blu-ray? I mean, it was purposely made low tech to give it a feel of realism, and honestly, to make it on a shoestring budget, so with just black and white film and hand held video, does up converting to high-def really add anything to the quality? I mean, if you dig this movie then chances are good you already own it on DVD, so should you pluck down more bucks to get it again on Blu-ray? That is the question.
Do I really have to restate the story of The Blair Witch Project? I mean, you’re on a website all about horror, are you really telling me you’ve never seen this movie? Well just in case you haven’t, I’ll give you the “I Love the 90s” condensed version. Three film students go out into the woods to shoot a documentary on a local legend of a ghostly witch that haunts the woods of a tiny town in New England. The three quickly become lost and from the start of the movie we’re told that they are never found, so that all we’re left with is the video and film they were shooting for their documentary and of themselves making the doc.
For the most part, The Blair Witch is just three young people getting scared at noises they hear off screen and constantly swearing at each other. However, the performances are strong, the back story was handled masterfully, and it has great and haunting ending. Well, at least I think it’s great; some people hate it.
You will like this movie based on your suspension of disbelief and if you can, at least partially, believe that the story you’re witnessing is real, something the filmmakers went to great lengths to play up. That is something that TBWP does better than almost any other film ever made, but it’s also one of the reasons some people hate it. Some viewers out there bought the back story hook, line, and sinker and when they learned that it was all just a movie (oops, spoilers) they kind of felt that they were lied to or ripped off and they never forgave the film for that.
Personally, I think that’s a great testament to the movie’s effectiveness. You will also like this movie depending upon how much emotion you invest in the three characters, if you can stomach the first-person, shaky-cam style it is shot in (I know two people personally that get physically ill at these types of movies), and if you believe that sometimes the scariest things are the ones you can’t see. If you’re expecting blood, gore, monsters, or special effects of any kind then you will be disappointed.
That said, is the Blu-ray worth getting? Well if you don’t already own the movie then yes, but if you already have the DVD then no, not really. Usually you’ll upgrade from DVD to BD if the video is greatly enhanced or there’s a whole new passel of extras on the new edition. This Blu-ray offers neither. There is simply not much you can do to polish the film quality when the movie was shot on hand held video cameras. Things may look the slightest bit better here than on the DVD, but such improvements are minor at best.
As far as extras go, the good news is that the BD has all the extras that the previous DVD had, including the very cool 45 minute long pseudo-documentary, “Curse of the Blair Witch” which was every bit as good as the actual film it was made to promote. The bad news is that it has not one new feature to entice fans to buy this one again. All in all this is a great movie, one that I highly recommend to any horror fan, but the Blu-ray doesn’t offer any reason for you to upgrade if you already own the DVD.