The Blair Witch Project

10/10 - Contains the most terrifying final image I've ever seen in a film.

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I saw THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT at an advance screening in New York City Thursday evening. For those of you who saw it also, please try to refrain from giving away the plot points so as not to ruin it for those who have not seen it yet. In today's information-overloaded society, and the omnipresence of the Internet and the Web, the pleasure of seeing a movie sight unseen without the entire story and denouement being disclosed prior to the film's release is a rare occasion indeed. Believe me, you don't want to know how the film ends until you see it.

What puzzles me the most about THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, the scariest and most terrifying film I have ever seen, is the distributor's decision to release it in the middle of the summer. The directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, have created the most heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat experience I've ever witnessed, and October would have been the ideal month to release it. I hope the film gets a major release and makes a lot of money as it truly deserves to. The performers are terrific, and the last 20 minutes are positively ruthless on the audience. What makes this film so phenomenal is its insistence to force the audience to see everything the camera sees, and the sheer terror is created by the power of suggestion. There is no overt blood or violence, and the film's methods of creating terror harken back to the golden days of radio when programs such as LIGHTS OUT! and INNER SANCTUM dominated the airwaves with horrific scenarios that used sound effects to brilliantly create terror in the minds of their listeners. The directors effectively and convincingly use the device of making one of the documentarians inexorable in her desire to photograph as much as she can while they're out in the woods, even when things go horribly wrong. Naturally, if she stopped shooting, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT would abruptly end. Even if you figure the film out before it's over, the final shot hits you like a ton of bricks.

In 1978, when I was ten, I read a story in the newspaper that authorities found bowls of blood and human bones in the Watchung Mountains in Central New Jersey. I never knew what became of that incident, but it terrified me as I lived about 25 minutes from the site. Several years later, I was hiking in the mountains with my Boy Scout troop and became momentarily lost. I had my compass, but I became panicked and confused. Although I was lost for a few minutes, it seemed like an eternity. On yet another camping trip several scouts and myself sat in our Scoutmaster's car in a circular parking lot waiting for another troop to arrive. It was pitch black and raining. You can imagine how a 12 year-old's imagination spins under such circumstances, which is why I believe THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT terrified me so.

I've successfully avoided reading anything about the film prior to seeing it so I don't know how much the film has been hyped. In my opinion, and this is strictly my opinion of course, nothing that has been done by any other horror film director of any film that I have seen can compare to this. I really cannot say enough about the film. If it doesn't give you goosebumps, I suggest that you check your pulse. I just hope that Hollywood takes note of this film and starts making some scary movies again. It's utterly brilliant. A word of caution: If you don't like the idea of being absolutely scared out of your mind, then don't see this film. It is truly terrifying.

Oh, and like my old friend Alfred once said: please�don't give away the ending!

Reviewed by Jonathan Stryker