This Shocking Saturday is a film which I, and I assume many others, have viewed several times. However, although I watched it for the first time many years ago, I felt that it deserved to be spoken about again, primarily because of what it created in the horror genre.
The hand-held camera band wagon has been driven into the ground in recent years, thanks to films, like Paranormal Activity 4, which offer cheap thrills and no gripping story line. Although the love for this genre has rapidly declined, back in the 90s the films were still shocking audiences and had a sense of individualism about them. One of the first was The Blair Witch Project, which brought all manner of things to the table, including giving viewers the impression that the story was true.
The film follows three student film-makers – Michael, Joshua and Heather – who are making a documentary about the myth of the Blair Witch in Maryland. The trio interviewed residents of the nearby town who seem certain that there is a being which lives amongst the woods, and according to legend the witch tormented a man called Rustin Parr in the 1940s, and would only leave him alone if he took children out into the woods and murdered them. The students then embark on a journey into the woods, despite all the warnings from the locals, to try to find more evidence and information about the Blair Witch. However tempers run high as the gang get lost and can’t find the road with the map, eventually making them turn on each other. Starving to death is not the only thing they should be afraid of though, as children’s cries and unexplained noises seem to get closer every night, the very myth they were investigating could be true, and hunting them down.
What made The Blair Witch Project stand out at the time, is the fact that it is one of the first of its kind, and that, mixed together with the superb acting of the three people, made it a film which was hard to look away from, even if at times you thought the pillow was needed. What it presented, which is not used enough in horror cinema today, was the use of the audience’s imagination. The film didn’t need to use buckets of blood and tons of jump scares, it made you decide what you were afraid of, and didn’t let you know that it was something else. It was the sense of fear in the actor’s voices and facial expressions which really hit hard, this was one of the reasons why people believed the video to be actual genuine footage, and it was hard not to believe it with Heather Donahue’s tearful and fearful monologue to the camera in the dead of night. In which she explains that she is too “scared to close my eyes, I’m scared to open them”, and adding the finishing touch on her believable speech is her knowing of what is to come “I’m gonna die out here.”
The film was directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, who have both been involved in other horror flicks over the years such as Lovely Molly and The Objective. What they created ignited a spark which took over the horror genre, and hasn’t stopped since. Yes the believability of the films these days is nothing compared to the 90s, but we have still had some great editions to the hand-held genre such as REC, The Fourth Kind and (only the first) Paranormal Activity.
A truly, although some would disagree, remarkable film, which took your darkest fears and had you imagine three people being hunted by them. Whatever evil lurks inside your head, is the Blair Witch.
Tag Line: Scary As Hell
Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆