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The Blair Witch Project This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "The Blair Witch Project," alow-budget horror movie that scared audiences silly at theSundance Film Festival, has been receiving incredible acclaimamong moviegoers. Some critics have dubbed it "thescariest movie since 'The Exorcist.'" I'll be honest withyou: it ain't. But what director tag-team Eduardo Sanchez andDaniel Myrick have achieved here is nothing short ofextraordinary: they open the imagination to a world offrightening possibilities. Tell yourself calmly "It isn'treal" before you enter the theater, and all should gosmoothly.

The Blair Witch is a mythical creature saidto live in the back woods of a small town calledBurkittsville, Maryland. There have been many campfire storiesabout the murders of children and other frighteningoccurrences, but no solid proof that the witch in questionever existed. Three college students - Heather (HeatherDonahue), Mikey (Michael Williams) and Josh (Joshua Leonard) -have set out to make a documentary about the Blair Witch. Foodand supplies have been packed for a two- or three-day ventureinto the woods where they hope to find historical landmarksthat have a significance in their project. They interview thelocals and find it to be common knowledge. However, the threeshow no respect for the legend; rather they view it as a funtrip into the woods and a chance to get drunk.

The90-minute "The Blair Witch Project" is composed ofchoppy footage that, we are told, was found one year later.There are two cameras that the trio used: a color hand-heldcamcorder operated by Heather to record the documentary inprocess, and a larger 16mm color film camera used by Josh forreal footage. Mikey is the sound man.

Sanchez andMyrick have made this film as real as humanly possible. Theactors use their real names, and the shoot was supposedlycomposed largely of improvisation, brought on by fear of thedark woods. When things become scary for the characters, thetension begins to build in the audience. They find themselveslost in the woods, stumbling upon frightening crosses andstick figures dangling from the trees. Some monologues arecarried on in the pitch-black setting of their tent, and youcan only imagine what's going on around them. Things becomecreepier than creepy when the group begins to hear children'svoices, and other mysterious sounds, echoing through the woodsin the night. We're very thankful when daylighthits.

As spooky as all of this sounds, it is muchscarier in the aftermath. You will go over certain scenes inyour mind - in fact, one character's helpless screams arestill echoing in my head. The performances are air-tight,especially by Williams and Leonard. Occasionally, Donahue'scries and outbursts of profanity seem forced. But, she alsoowns the most effective scene in the movie, in which sherecords her apologies to the group's parents while holdingback sobs of terror. "I'm too scared to close my eyes,and I'm too scared to open them," sheexplains.

Sanchez and Myrick have wrung this greatpremise for every ounce of possible fear. It is not sohorrific that you'll find yourself quivering in your seat, butit is scary. The ending contains one of the most frighteningframes in movie history. And, with only one scene of briefviolence, the directors have largely succeeded in proving onefact: images the imagination can conjure up are far morefrightening than anything shown on film. "The Blair WitchProject" is no phenomenon, but it is very, very welldone. * * * * (out of five stars) .

This movieis rated R. Those under 17 must be accompanied by anadult.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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