The Blair Witch Project
What's scarier, a wolf in the house or a wolf at the door? Is it more frightening to be eaten by a monster or to live in fear of such a fate? Eduardo Sanchez and Dan Myrick's debut film The Blair Witch Project leaves its horror to the audience's imagination, and in doing so creates a truly scary horror film, something akin to a lost art these days. An opening screen announces that the movie consists of footage recovered from three lost student filmmakers who disappeared in the Maryland woods while searching for the legendary Blair Witch, and never allows anything to shatter that illusion. Shot with handheld cameras, Blair Witch has the look of a student film and its accompanying outtakes, but more importantly, it feels real. Its three principals (Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard) all give fine performances, creating fully realized characters from apparently candid moments in the film's first half and doing a thoroughly convincing job of appearing scared witless in its second. And scary it is, but in a way not seen too often before. Blair Witch's novel approach relies almost entirely on suggestion and implication, tapping into the same feelings conjured by a mysterious creak in an empty house. Like the original version of The Haunting and Peter Weir's Picnic At Hanging Rock, Sanchez and Myrick's film knows that what's not seen frightens more easily that what is, and that the imagination's thoughts of what might have happened generally horrify on a deeper level than knowing what did.