The Blair Witch Project Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

The Blair Witch Project is definitely a very well known movie. Just about anyone who is familiar with the horror genre will likely have heard of this film at some point or another. It really got the whole found footage genre on the map in the first place. That said, it also plays out how you would expect with every single character being super unlikable and obnoxious the whole time. They crack under pressure almost instantly here.

There are only 3 important characters in the entire film so that makes them all the more crucial to the film being good. Basically Heather wants to investigate this mysterious Blair Witch and so her two friends Mike and Josh agree to go with her into the woods. It’s supposed to be a relatively small area so at least they won’t get lost right? Well, after a day of hiking they try to make their way back but can’t seem to leave the forest. They keep finding themselves back at the start only there is some scary imagery awaiting them each time. At night they hear sounds as if there are people running around. Have they already entered the Witch’s labyrinth?

From the start I don’t think it was a great plan to look into the whole Blair Witch angle. I mean, put it this way, what can they possibly learn about the witch? There’s the old crime that some townspeople mentioned where a guy kidnapped a bunch of kids and murdered them all. It seems like that may have somehow turned into the witch legend but even then, what are you going to find in the forest? Realistically you’re either going to find nothing or you’re going to find a supernatural entity and will be destroyed. In no scenario will this go favorably for you.

Back to the journey though, this reminds you why you have to be very careful when choosing your travelling companions. It’s one thing to have friends that you’re cool with during the day but how will they handle high pressure situations? Not very well in this case although all 3 characters are really at fault here.

First up you have Heather who insists on holding her camera at all times no matter how much the others beg her not too. It’s clear that this is just distressing them more and more but she will not put it down. Mike at least even asks not to be filmed on many occasions but she flat out ignores him and continues to do it anyway. That’s not good for keeping everyone agreeable with each other. Throw in the constant panicking and I definitely didn’t like her as the main character.

Not to say that the others were much better at all though. You have Mike who starts to crack before Josh. He is really stressed out about going home and is determined for Heather to admit that they’re completely lost. He’s really obsessed about this point which isn’t going to help their cause. Yeah Heather should have admitted that she was winging it the whole time but forcing her to admit that shouldn’t be at the top of their priorities. Then at the end you have Mike running off on his own a lot which puts them in a bad spot. You have to stick together at that point.

Then you have Josh who really can’t help but panic at all times. He starts singing nonsense, running out of the tent, etc. He puts them in a lot of the danger here. While I said that Heather should put the camera down, it’s still no excuse for Josh to be completely cracking the way that he is. He really needed to keep his head. This trio was really just bad at survival and I wouldn’t be surprised if they really were just running in circles the whole time.

If anything it would have been better if we stuck to the townsfolk interviews as the main plot. Those guys all seemed a bit crazy but at least they were more sensible than these three teenagers. Now I know you got to have a lot of panicking and such for drama but imagine three adults thrown into this situation instead. No panicking, none of that. Just a few rational people trying to figure out what needs to happen next. I think the “Blair Witch” would have a much more difficult time in this case.

I’ve never been a fan of the shaky camera direction in a film and this is no exception. Traditional camerawork will just always be superior to me. I want to see what is happening at all times and be able to see what’s going on. With this setup you have to hope that the characters can aim straight and with how they’re being terrorized by the witch the whole time and their own fears…well that’s a tall order. That means you miss out on a whole lot of the action which is no good.

Overall, The Blair Witch Project ends about how you would expect it too. It’s a very by the books kind of movie and I suppose at the time it was original but it feels like every found footage movie goes in the same way. What’s my interpretation of the ending? Josh took them down real quick. I’m less inclined to believe the supernatural elements this time just because there’s too much room for doubt. Usually in these things it’s clear that the witch is real but each of the supernatural elements is something that one of the gang could have done. My primary suspect is Josh and the rest was just paranoia on the part of the heroes. It’s fairly tame for a horror and so it’s not a tough watch but the characters are just soooooooooo annoying. That’s what is really going to hold this movie back for me. I just can’t picture watching the movie again.

Overall 4/10

Phoenix Forgotten Review

Uh oh, it’s time for a found footage film. Honestly this is one of the worst genres out there. I already don’t like horror films, but found footage films tend to be even lower on the totem pole. The two genres do like to blend together as well although I think this would be considered more of a thriller than a horror. The film moves incredibly slow and by the end all you’ll be thinking is…”If I’m buying 4 slices and a drink from Little Caesars for 5, maybe I’m better off going to Little Italy and getting 2 slices but the infinite refills with it”

The story follows a reporter who is going around trying to find intel on 3 teenagers who went missing. Their names as Josh, Mark, and Ashley. The reporter has an interest in the case since Josh was her big brother. The problem is that the government keeps stiffing her and since this disappearance happened years ago, all of the trails have gone cold. Fortunately, Sophie is told that the school found a camcorder at a secluded facility in the middle of nowhere that actually still works. Sophie pops it in and finally learns the truth behind the mystery. She is stunned at the results!

So, that’s effectively the subplot as it takes place in the present, but most of the film is in the past. Since Sophie is making a documentary, naturally all of her scenes are filmed as if they’re found footage as well. We jump to the past where Josh decides that he wants to find some aliens. After all, he saw some strange lights a while back that seemed like UFOs. Mark and Ashley join him and the three decide to run through a bunch of mountains. They do this for a while and then get lost once it’s late. They do what any other mainstream teenager would do, they break open the beers and start panicking. Before long the aliens show up and take them down.

There are so many problems with this film that it’s quite tragic. For starters, we have the token animal violence. Why is there animal violence in this film? Well, apparently the aliens are still working on their tractor beams as they tend to burn the targets up instead of sending them into space. It’s also awfully fast since they burn parts of the animals but then leave them on the ground. The scenes are utterly pointless much like the film itself and you’ll wonder just how low this film will stoop before it finally ends.

The writing is terrible as you’d expect. All of the characters are really annoying and since the camera work is terrible on purpose, you’ll find yourself cringing the whole time. I don’t use the word lightly, but this is another reason why I don’t like the found footage genre. The zoom ins on all of the characters are much too close and the ametuer style in which they’re filmed is just not entertaining to look at. Honestly, I’m not even a big fan of the old family videos everyone made back when it was trendy but at least I was starring in those so it made them a little more fun. I don’t want to watch a video of strangers just hanging out and drinking beer. It’s just not cool.

The aliens don’t actually do anything for the first 60 minutes so that time is just the heroes chatting about nothing really and trying to be as unlikable as possible. The film never even tried to make them good characters if you ask me, but there were none in the whole film. Even the government turned out to be evil and corrupt as always. It’s sad that the government is almost always either incompetent or evil. It’s rare to find movies where they are portrayed as capable heroes but I’m always glad when I see that happen.

The film’s plot is also just barely held together. See, the writers needed the whole story to be filmed on camera, but this wasn’t even possible without plot holes. Towards the end of the film we see Josh taken up by the aliens as he drops his camera and it gets thrown around in the twister. Then….Josh somehow fights his way through the alien ship in a matter of seconds, escapes through the hatch, makes his way back and grabs the camera, runs to a bathroom…and is then kidnapped again. Then the camera is sucked up again, survives a vicious crash, and then someone mails it to the school. The whole thing was super convenient and also unbelievable. I don’t see how Josh could have gotten out of the tractor beam when nobody else could have. I don’t see how nobody would notice the aliens this time when they’re so bright and loud. People would definitely notice that kind of thing. I just couldn’t get past this ending.

The aliens also don’t really show up. We see a claw or a foot for a split second and that’s it. Clearly this film didn’t have much of a special effects budget so this turned into an alien film without the aliens. That’s just peachy. Back to the humans not being likable, the film maybe tries to hint that the aliens mess with your mind. I’m not too sure about that and prefer to just think that the humans are terrible. Mark constantly panics and drinks. He refuses to talk with the others even though it would make the whole process quicker and is the main reason everyone was talking in circles for a while. They could have stayed in the car where it was semi safe, but he wanted to run the 15 miles to the nearest gas station. Even then he got distracted within seconds. Ashley also panics at everything and keeps forcing the group to stop so she can tie her shoes or panic about her hair falling out. The only guy I almost felt sorry for was Josh because he would have escaped the aliens if he didn’t have to stop for the other two every 5 seconds. Clearly he should have gone on by himself. He wasn’t a cool character either though so I was cool with the aliens claiming the win here. They just need to take on the rest of the town n ext.

The film is super dramatic and tries to be emotional constantly. We have a divorce subplot and they really try to forcefeed you the “You have to be sad now” memo as we see the parents cry about the teens being gone and everyone assuming the worst. The home cam videos are supposed to really reinforce this. All it does is stretch the film out even more and completely destroy whatever pacing the film could have had. This film could have been shortened to 30 minutes and you wouldn’t have missed a thing.

Also, why was Sophie’s camera man never really shown until the end? I thought the film was gearing up for some kind of big twist like he was Josh or something and that’s why everyone kept looking at Sophie like she was crazy. The twist would have been terrible but at least it would have been something. Otherwise, the camera man is just another empty character whose existence is only to hold the camera so Sophie can get a good shot.

Overall, As you can guess I really didn’t like the film. It’s basically just 90 minutes of nothing happening. The alien “jump scare” scenes are pitifully bad and wouldn’t scare a kid. The repetition is annoying and since the aliens keep taunting the main characters instead of doing something to them, I have to assume that they’re just petty. They don’t seem to have any actual goals so I’ll assume that they are mindless as well. There’s really only negative things to say about the film so as you can tell I really didn’t like it. I’d say that Cloverfield was a better found footage film and even Paranormal Activity which by all accounts should be worse as it’s a full horror plus this genre, but was actually far superior. Next time you secretly want to make a film about teens just running around and just acting like terrible people with no extra plot…don’t. Instead of this film I recommend watching something a little more intense like the first Jumanji.

Overall 1/10