Case study three- The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project(1999) is a psychological horror written and directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. The film is about three student filmmakers who disappeared in the woods in Maryland when they were trying to film a documentary about a local legend, The Blair Witch. Before the film starts the viewers are told that the film is made up of footage that was found on the students video and sound equipment.

Marketing campaign:

Since the movie came out before sites such as Twitter and Facebook existed the directors of the movie created a website: http://www.blairwitch.com/legacy.html, the website is full of fake police reports and photos that the “police” have released of the missing students. They also passed on the story via online message boards to get people talking. Their method of advertising cost them very little and got people into cinemas because there was a “buzz” about the movie and whether it was really a documentary or not, this uncertainty terrified the audiences because in the back of their mind they always wondered if it was really true.

Budget:

The film cost $500,000-$750,000 to make and made $249,000,000 making it one of the highest grossing independent films of all time.

Source of horror:

The use of a handheld camera to film the movie adds an element of realism to it which makes the paragraph about the missing students at the beginning of the movie even more believable, this leaves a sense of uncertainty in the viewers mind because they will always wonder whether the story is true or not. Also, the fact that the viewer doesn’t see anything scary for instance a witch or a ghost adds it to the fear since the viewer will never see the source of the creepy disturbances in the woods.

Iconography: 

Throughout the movie there is a lack of horror movie iconography such as: mirrors, a lot of blood and a monster/witch. The lack of iconography sets it apart from other horror movies however, towards the end of the movie there is a haunted house and both  characters ignore the number one horror movie rule and enter it which eventually leads to their death. Additionally, in almost every horror movie a way out is offered however in this one there isn’t and Heather is the only character who openly admits this in an emotional scene where we see her record a message in which she apologises to everyones families.

Paranormal Activity (2007) is a film that was clearly influenced by The Blair Witch Project. The film is presented in the style of “found footage” and uses the technique of retroscripting just like The Blair Witch Project, this just shows how much TBWP has influenced horror movies.

The Paranormal Activity trailer.

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