When I wrote my review of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT a few days ago I honestly didn't expect the amount of responses I got. We all know that the film polarizes audiences, etc., etc., and by this point the feedback comments are just going round in circles and have devolved into juvenalia, so I'll let the following thoughts from my old Marvel Comics colleague Tim Tuohy serve as a coda for the whole thing. Take it away, Tim!
The Blair Witch Experience, or The Wicked Witch is Not Dead!
Once again, I am brought into the world of movie commentary by my good and sorely missed friend, the mocha love god, El Buncho. He was very kind to ask if I wanted to weigh in on the whole Blair Witch thing. I’m never one to miss an opportunity to duel cinematic swords with the great one, but I had to think long and hard on this one and decided what the fuck.
I know that I am going to be the object of his scorn but I must respectfully agree with every single point he made about the film and then disagree in the same breath. I loved the Blair Witch Project because I took it for what it was supposed to present. If you can get past the deceit of the film then this is one trip to the woods I want to miss.
I am also going to agree with another of El Buncho’s contributors, Jared. I assume he is the same Jared from our days at Marvel. What’s up? We are a jaded group. I am always amazed at Bunche’s encyclopedic film knowledge. As I previously wrote, he can pull out the most obscure movie references ever. And I think that is a failing in some ways. Can there be someone who is TOO well versed? Tom De Falco, as far as I’m concerned Marvel’s best Editor-in-Chief, used to tell all of the editors that every comic might be somebody’s first and has to be presented as such. Blair Witch was the first for a lot of people.
Blair Witch was derivative of many genre films and took inspiration from many sources. So did George Lucas for the first Star Wars; to my wife’s dismay, also known as Episode IV: A New Hope. What got me about Blair Witch was the execution. It was sloppy. It was weak. It was incompetent. To me, that was the point. Sometimes simplicity can be more effective than the biggest budget. The characters were annoying. Their predicament was self-inflicted. Their struggle was a series of missteps. They were real to me. To bring back another point that Jared made, where you saw the movie was also important. I saw it at my cousin’s apartment and the only light was from the TV itself. Mood Lighting.
To be fair again, if you don’t buy the premise, turn the TV off. My cousin didn’t and hated the movie. She had every single complaint that Bunche had, especially about the cast. Here’s my take on the cast. This is exactly what would’ve happened if three ill-prepared, ill-equipped, and ill-advised dumb-ass college students with delusions of grandeur walked into the woods. Would anyone really have thought it was a better movie if they had cell phones, GPS, laminated maps, and a backup plan? Doubt it? Were they stupid? Absolutely. Were they annoying? Again, if you fall for the premise, they are totally true to life and I think that is a stumbling block for a lot of people. We want to see strength and leadership in all people all of the time when we go to the movies. Everybody wants to be John McClane and get to yell “yippee-ki-yay, mother fucker”! We don’t want to see what could be ourselves in the same situation. How many times have we gotten snippy when somebody pointed out a stupid mistake or action we made? If you say never, then you can stop here and call your therapist or sponsor.
All those petty emotions and reactions were what made Blair Witch resonate with me. The movie was brought down to the baser human emotions of fear, anger, and vindictiveness and successfully exploited. There was another movie that had a similar take on feelings of helplessness that I enjoyed but was left slightly blah. I purchased The Perfect Storm solely because it was directed by Wolfgang Peterson and involved lots of water. If you saw Das Boot, you know where I’m coming from. Here’s my problem with that movie. They all die. How do we know that any of this is really what happened? We don’t. We hope that in the face of utter adversity, Capt. Clooney pointed the boat into the wave but we don’t know for sure. The same thing happened in that waste of money Open Water. In Blair Witch, everybody dies and you see it. You get the payoff and you get it hard. My wife commented that the most terrifying part was the end. Seeing the character standing in the corner and hearing the sound and scream as the screen went black was unnerving.
This is what you paid for. You’ve seen movies. You knew they were dead. But that was just something totally unexpected. Again, it goes back to believing the film is documentary footage and not a scripted piece.
It’s not a perfect movie. It has flaws. Spider-Man 3 was a movie that cost $300 million dollars and was one big flaw. I will cut two guys who spent $22,000 some slack. Sometimes a movie just strikes a chord with people. I am setting myself up for ridicule here: I love Event Horizon. There is not a single original thought in that film. Not one. And yet, there must have been something about that so un-original movie that inspired the impressive director Danny Boyle to completely rip off the ending for his own movie Sunshine
Why do I feel that some movies are there for just entertainment and others should be much more? I truly believe it has to do with the amount of time invested in it. If I invest 2 hours and am entertained, great. In the case of SP3, I spent 4 plus previous hours to have all those great moments all wiped away. If SP3 had been the first film in the series, in some alternate universe, then it wouldn’t have been the total cluster-fuck it was. There is a definite ratio of time to pleasure going on here.
Movies are a personal experience for every viewer. I enjoyed Blair Witch and El Buncho didn’t. That’s perfect. What is unfortunate is that he and I are no longer the target audience. Blair Witch might actually have been the last gasp at story telling, no matter how shoddy it was done. You got to know the characters and for better or worse you couldn’t stand them, but you knew them.
The Blair Witch Project was a single moment in time that will never be duplicated. All pop culture phenomena are. Will U2 ever sell as many copies as they did with the Joshua Tree? Will a single issue of the X-Men ever sell 8 million copies again? Will 2 guys ever make an 11,000% return on investment for a film? These things just happen.
One day, if Bunche asks, I will sit down and write something about when the whole Alien franchise took a nosedive.
Anyone can e-mail me with their thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.