When The Blair Witch Project came out in 1999, it grossed nearly $250 million dollars worldwide. It's crazy because the movie isn't what you would call cinematic. It was borderline amateur shooting, shaky footage, bad color grading, and terrible focusing. For some reason, it became a cult classic. Why?
There's one thing that can really get to the audience when watching a horror film and it's not what is seen, it's what you can't see. The suspense of waiting what is coming next. The movie is filled with this. You don't ever see the witch or any kind of monsters, all you see is the main subjects, the imprint of children's hands and a bunch of random sticks that appear out of no where. It's shows nothing of any significance, but it's terrifying.
Have you ever been somewhere and something happens that you can't explain? A chair that moves for no reason, a door that closes behind you, someone whispering in a room where it's just you? It's that kind of fear that translates throughout the entire movie. Tapping into people's inner most fear is what gets their attention.
This movie wasn't the first to introduce the "lost footage" tactic, but it seems to have been the one to perfect it in the eyes of some. I remember when my older sister was describing the movie to me before I was able to see it and it was described as, "I've never seen anything like this.". When I saw it, I believed I was actually watching actual footage. I couldn't sleep that night I saw it because the movie made me question reality. When a movie can do that, it becomes something special.
Obviously, the illusion was broken when they started doing interviews on ET. Once it came out that the movie is just a cleverly made illusion, people started going crazy over it because some people were fooled into thinking that it was a movie showing actual events. Since then, movies have tried to mimic the same technique. Many have tried, almost all have failed. There are a few that semi-succeeded like Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, but no matter how many movies come out that try to succeed using the "lost footage" technique, none will have the same success as The Blair Witch Project.
Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!