The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project ★★★★½

As I'm sure it did a lot of you, 'The Blair Witch Project' strongly effected me upon it's initial release. Opening my eyes to a kind of horror that truly made me forget my sense of place. There have been tens of thousands of reviews for 'Blair Witch' so instead I'm going to tell a story.

I'm from a rural part of Northwest, Florida called 'Bear Creek' in a house my Dad built himself. It lies at the dead end of a dirt lane enclosed by trees and sparse farms with a few trashy trailers every few acres. I have some pretty magical memories of my sheltered childhood, but I have an equal amount of memories of fear and isolation. I remember how black it looked out of all of the windows at night. I remember thinking how easily someone could be looking in at me and I'd never know. I remember the lane leading to the main road, and how it was so overgrown the trees formed an arch making the walk a few notes darker than either side.

When I was thirteen my Mom and I went to see 'the Blair Witch Project'. We both left a little rattled. I remember my Mom taking me to dinner after and admitting that she couldn't face our house without distracting herself from the horrifying mindfuck we had just watched. We made it home ok. Now jump forward a few months; the school year is in full swing and I get invited to a slumber party. Not too far from my house, in a neighborhood with a similar but slightly more spread out vibe. I remember the girls names were Heather, the host, Meagan, my best friend at the time, and Michelle, a new girl in school. We were staying up late, we played Bloody Mary - it didn't work. Heather decided we should go for a walk, at 2am in the middle of nowhere. We complied. We must have walked for about two miles down this clay road when we finally encountered another house. Meagan decided to be the asshole and go snooping around. She goes into their yard and is crouching behind a bush trying to look in the window. I'm about to lose my mind, so annoyed we all try coaxing her back from the road. She says she sees something and suddenly a porch light comes on. Heather, Michelle and I turn around and run about 30 yards in the opposite direction. I stop them so we can wait for her, assuming that Bunghole is right behind us. We stop right on the side of the road almost touching the woods. I look and see that Meagan is now hiding on the other side of the person's car. We briefly discuss what to do, they want to leave her, I felt bad since we were so far from Heather's. We debate for maybe one solid minute before hearing rustling about three feet away in the woods. We pause and look over, we see the trees move much higher than if it were an animal. About the height of a person and as we kind of froze for a moment, just trying to process. Before we knew what was happening an old woman's voice whispers "I see you girls".

With no hesitation we take off in the other direction giving no thought what-so-ever about Meagan. All I remember is RUNNING. All of us running for probably a mile straight. I ran so fast and so long that I thought I might pass out. Half way through our sprint I glance over my should to see Megan trailing far behind us. When Heather's house was finally in sight I felt somewhat relieved, though the rest of the night I was reeling. We were CONVINCED it was the Blair Witch. And stupid Meagan with her thrill-seeking missed the whole thing. In retrospect it was probably some local wanting to fuck with us, but at the time it was a truly malevolent force. I can never get over the fact that the rustling was so close, and the voice sounded as if it was right in front of us but we saw no figure. I've also wondered if this encounter had anything to do with the supernatural activity that eclipsed my house at that time. But I'll save that one.

So that's my encounter with "the Blair Witch" - a boogie man of sorts. The film works because it's the most basic illustration of helplessness and fear. A climate that is both claustrophobic and agoraphobic . It's very natural and the organic nature of the film is what makes it timeless. Not knowing what is out there and when you do encounter it, it's so brief and mystifying that it becomes the thing of myth. This movie will always remind me of one of my most cinematic moments, and the parallels they share.

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