Episode 20. “It’s Very Hard To Get Lost In America These Days”: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

BWPAndrea and Alex take a wrong turn down the horrored halls and discuss Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick’s groundbreaking film, The Blair Witch Project. By looking at the created mythology, unstable narrative and audience reaction they hope to find the map before it starts getting dark.

REQUIRED READING

The Blair Witch Project. Dir Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick. 1999. [DVD]

EXTRA CREDIT

32 Things We Learned From the ‘Blair Witch Project’ Commentary Track. A break down of the most salient points from the director and producer commentary on the DVD.
Book Excerpt: “Film Firsts: The 25 Movies that Created Contemporary American Cinema” by Ethan Alter. An analysis of the release and revolutionary marketing campaign.
The Blair Witch Project. The OG website with only a few updates. Still a great source the Blair Witch mythology and timeline of events.

LISTEN

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13 thoughts on “Episode 20. “It’s Very Hard To Get Lost In America These Days”: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

  1. – God, I remember watching this as a child and having such an impact on me. The mythology of the witch, the eeriness of the woods, the unseeable assailant–which reminds me of Blackwood’s The Willows http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11438–and the found footage made me have a visceral reaction to it; it scared the ever living shit out of me, and for a whole year I was afraid of the woods near my parents’ house.

    The final shot of Mike standing in a corner has been embedded in my brain. Whenever someone brings up that scene, I can vividly remember it and how I felt at the time.

    http://thedissolve.com/features/movie-of-the-week/800-the-blair-witch-project-15-years-beyond-the-hype-a/

    D’Angelo of the Dissolve wrote a piece on the Blair Witch, and there’s a sentence that grabs me on why it was so decisive:

    “Like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, The Blair Witch Project is an art film that was sold to the public as mainstream entertainment.”

    Blair Witch’s ability to not hand-hold the viewer and allow ambiguity to seep into the narrative definitely pissed off a lot of people. Also, Blair Witch has a “villain” that was completely off-screen, that was built up by the mythology brought forth from the residents and whatever the three teens experienced, allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks, was somewhat atypical for mainstream Horror films.

    Blair Witch is more related to the Weird Fiction genre than Horror.

  2. Sarah Horrocks says:

    I listened to this episode in the early morning hours while I was alone at work…good goddddd was it scary. It’s a real testament to the strength of the idea that just talking about it, gives you the chills. I was glad to hear that you guys were freaking out a little talking about it. I need to rewatch this. It’s been a long time. I’ve always liked it though.

  3. Andy Lewis says:

    Brilliant Podcast! This episode really put me in the mood to watch a truly horrifying British mockumentary called Ghostwatch – to this day the only horror masterpiece I cannot watch whilst alone in the house. Have you guys seen it? Hope so and Happy Halloween!

    Andy, a new listener from across the pond.

  4. Robert Black says:

    WNUF Halloween Special has a similar premise to Ghostwatch although it’s not as good.

  5. Beyla says:

    When I first watched Blair Witch I was pretty rural, so I found it a bit harder to empathize with the main characters. I really felt more of a connection to the locals they mocked and I really felt like they shouldn’t be there.
    As something of a hillbilly, I was frustrated that they could be lost when there was a creek that close to them since my upbringing taught me that creeks are like roads. They only go in two directions and if you pick one and follow it you’ll come to a road or a town before long. It just really drove the fact that these were dumb city folk who were going to die out there.

    I saw it with a group of friends and all of us came out of there not believing that even in the world of the film there was any Blair Witch, that these kids were just a bunch of dummies who wanted to play scooby doo, but the creepy guy at the bait shop never gave any of them the chance to pull a mask off of him. We were all so certain of it that we were totally turned off by the media surrounding the sequel and never saw it.
    When I hear other people’s opinions on the film, I always wonder how much being a person who views a house in the middle of the woods as a point of nostalgia instead of other colors the perceptions of this movie.

  6. This episode reminded me of how much I actually liked this movie and the impact it had on my 17 year old mind in 1999. It was well-edited and fun to listen to.

  7. Paul Mudie says:

    Great podcast!

    I was one of the people who loved this film from the first, and still do. It’s a wonderful exercise in pure atmospherics, and leaves your imagination to fill in most the blanks. The excellent “mockumentary” ‘The Curse of the Blair Witch’ really adds extra layers to the mythos and actually enhances repeated viewings of the film. And the acting from the cast perfectly nails the level of naturalism that’s needed for the found footage genre to work effectively. A masterpiece!

  8. Valerie says:

    I saw BW in the movies theater and I couldn’t agree more about the end!

    The rest of the movie was meh and I was expecting jump scares the whole time. When I finally let my guard down, BAM, the creepiest goddamn movie seen ever. I’ve never heard anyone who had the same feeling but I guess I haven’t really had a lot of convos about it, either, so I am glad to hear your similar creeped outedness!

    Since then I’ve seen a million scary movies and things, undertook the formal study of one field of forensic investigation, etc. I can fall asleep to the creepiest TV true crime shows. Whatever. But, I was listening to your episode in bed. Alone. In the dark. Bad idea! I turned it down real quick when I knew you were going to describe that last scene. BUt I was still so creeped out, I had to turn it off!! I finished listening to it the next day in traffic on my way home. *shudder* All these years later, it’s STILL the scariest movie moment I’ve ever seen!

    I appreciated your assessments and well, appreciation of the movie and its place in the cannon of the genre.

    Thanks!

  9. Gory B Movie says:

    Awesome podcast! I loved hearing your thoughts on this very iconic film. You certainly gave me the chills more than a couple times!

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