“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you.
In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!
*Warning: May Contain Spoilers*
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Scene: The House
It is easy to write off or disregard the accomplishments and the impact that The Blair Witch Project had on horror back in 1999. Before all the parodies, ripoffs and nauseating amount of found footage films, it was simply a creative horror film with a tremendous marketing strategy that showed how scary a movie could be when all the production norms are stripped away. By simply using a basic home camera while focusing more on the group of friend’s reactions in a nightmare scenario and leaving most the scares off-camera, Blair Witch would create a frightening experience for most who watch.
To set the tone for the whole movie, the footage shown was suppose to be what was found after the events had occurred in order to find out what happened to this group. Three film students (Heather, Mike, and Josh) would travel to a small town in Maryland to interview local residents about a fabled legend called the Blair Witch. They decide to explore the nearby woods where most of the stories are supposed to have taken place. The deeper in the woods they go the more strange things begin to take place. Hearing twigs snap and children laughing in the distance, they get lost, have weird piles of rocks appear outside their tents, and see humanoid stick figures hanging in trees are just a few of the happenings that begin to take a psychological toll on the students and the viewer.
Days have passed as paranoia begins to set in and they notice they are going in circles. The morning after setting up camp, Josh has disappeared and after failing to find him Heather and Mike set up camp again. In the middle of the night, they hear Josh screaming in agony but are unable to locate him and believe it’s just the witch to draw them deeper into the woods. The next morning, Heather discovers a bundle of sticks tied with a piece of fabric from Josh’s shirt. As she searches through it, she finds blood-soaked scraps of Josh’s shirt as well as teeth, hair and what appears to be a piece of his tongue.
This brings us to our scene of intense hysteria. Heather kept her findings to herself and decides to tape an apology that has been parodied a million times over and is probably more famous than the actual movie itself. (That’s not the scene we are talking about even though it was well done and well-acted) They again hear Josh crying out in agony and as they look for him, they find a dilapidated house. As they cautiously enter, they see demonic symbols and children’s handprints on the wall. They hear Josh and desperately try to find where he is until they are able to determine his cries are coming from the basement. Mike rushes down to try and find him while we hear Heather screaming for Mike off camera.
The intensity ratchets up as we follow Mike, but don’t know what’s going on off-camera with Josh or Heather. As the viewer watching in first-person point of view, we are locked in as if we were there which makes this all the more effective. As Mike seemingly gets closer, his camera simply falls to the ground. What happened? We cut to Heather’s Black and white POV as she continues to scream for Mike. She slowly rounds a corner to see Mike facing a corner. She screams bloody murder for Mike as he doesn’t move, we a noise and again her camera falls to floor.
I think the effectiveness of this scene is built from the beginning of the movie with first-person POV and the decision to not show anything that happened or what caused any of the disturbance. Was it actually the urban legend or simply hillbilly’s torturing these college folk? (Deliverance caused a lot of hillbilly and woods issues for me) We are left to conjure up everything with our imagination as we were immersed in this intense scene with some brooding score or special effects. No jump scares or Scooby doo unmasking. Just heavy breathing, screams, and fun camera play.
What did you think of this from The Blair Witch Project? Were you able to experience in theaters?