My Top 20 Scares of 2020: #6

Welcome back! I hope you’re enjoying some Christmas leftovers and gently nodding to sleep in front of the TV before being brutally jolted awake by a scream and a sickening squelch. I want only the best for you.

Today’s #6 pick is a genre-defining classic that brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “low budget” and also reminds us now and always how great grunge is as an aesthetic:

#6. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

(c) BLAIR WITCH PROJECT 1999.

Probably I should have watched this movie before 2020. In my defense, when it came out in 1999 I still wasn’t allowed to watch PG-13 movies and I also attended a parochial school where students were routinely forbidden from consuming witch-related content for religious reasons. I hope that’s adequate explanation for this delay in cultural literacy.

But also! The fact that this movie was 20+ years old by the time I watched it is just a testament to why THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999), directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, is so excellent. By the time I became acquainted with the BLAIR WITCH I had already seen other found footage movies that totally stole from the witch. This did not diminish the scary-ness of the original. BLAIR WITCH managed to scare the crap out of me with a couple piles of rocks and some excellent editing. I am still very impressed.

BLAIR WITCH knocks it out of the park when it comes to use of the form/genre. Between crap cameras, unknown actors who improvised their lines, and brilliant (if questionably ethical) marketing, the filmmakers convinced tons of people that this was real. The actors’ parents even received condolence calls. I think that’s cool as heck, and also evidence of how real this movie feels. 20 years later, knowing it is for sure not real, it was still easy to buy in. The pacing is tight, and the movie plays on a real fear people already have: the fear of getting lost in the woods. Then it successfully wraps up by never revealing some kind of implausible big bad Witch. The terror of the unknown remains intact.

How Did It Score
  • How scary was it? 4/5
  • How memorable was it? 4/5
    • I honestly think about this movie pretty regularly. A pile of rocks has never been so effectively creepy and probably never will again.
  • Was it a Quality film? 5/5
    • This thing defined a genre and every found footage movie since then has been trying to replicate its effectiveness.
  • How about those women? 2/5
  • Total points: 15/20

Published by Brandy N. Carie

Playwright. Director. Producer. Dramaturg. I like coffee and Whisky and dogs and talking in person.

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