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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Brian Montgomery

The Blair Witch Project [Blu-ray]

 

(Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, 1999)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Brian Montgomery

 

Production:

Theatrical: Artisan Entertainment

Blu-ray: Lionsgate

 

Disc:

Region: FREE!

Runtime: 1:21:23.712

Disc Size: 21,293,119,028 bytes

Feature Size: 17,055,246,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.993 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-Ray Case

Release date: October 5th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080P / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

 

Audio:

English (DTS-HD Master Audio 2070 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2070 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit))
English (Dolby Digital Audio 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround)

 

Subtitles:

English, Spanish, None

 

Extras:

• Director and Producer Commentary

• Alternative Endings

• Curse of the Blair Witch (44:01)

• Discovered Footage (Theories of the Blair Witch) (5:13)

• The Blair Witch Legacy (3:40)

• Theatrical Trailers

 

Description: Combining Hi-8 video with black-and-white 16 mm film, this film presents a raw look at what can happen when college students forego common sense and enter the world of voodoo and witchcraft. Presented as a straightforward documentary, the film opens with a title card explaining that in 1994, three students went into the Maryland back woods to do a film project on the Blair Witch incidents. These kids were never seen again, and the film you are about to see is from their recovered equipment, found in the woods a year later. The entire movie documents their adventures leading up to their final minutes. The Blair Witch incident, as we initially learn from the local town elders, is an old legend about a group of witches who tortured and killed several children many years ago. Everyone in town knows the story and they're all sketchy on the details. Out in the woods and away from their parked car (and civilization), what starts as a school exercise turns into a nightmare when the three kids lose their map. Forced to spend extra days finding their way out, the kids then start to hear horrific sounds outside their tents in the pitch-black middle of night. They also find strange artifacts from (what can only be) the Blair Witch, still living in the woods. Frightened, they desperately try to find their way out of the woods, with no luck. Slowly these students start to unravel, knowing they have no way of getting out, no food, and it's getting cold. Each night they are confronted with shrieking and sounds so haunting that they are convinced someone is following them, and they quickly begin to fear for their lives. The film premiered in the midnight movie section at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Chris Gore, All Movie Guide

 

 

The Film:

"The Blair Witch Project," [is] an extraordinarily effective horror film... It has no fancy special effects or digital monsters, but its characters get lost in the woods, hear noises in the night and find disturbing stick figures hanging from trees. One of them discovers slime on his backpack. Because their imaginations have been inflamed by talk of witches, hermits and child murderers in the forest, because their food is running out and their smokes are gone, they (and we) are a lot more scared than if they were merely being chased by some guy in a ski mask.

The movie is like a celebration of rock-bottom production values--of how it doesn't take bells and whistles to scare us. It's presented in the form of a documentary. We learn from the opening titles that in 1994 three young filmmakers went into a wooded area in search of a legendary witch: "A year later, their footage was found." The film's style and even its production strategy enhance the illusion that it's a real documentary. The characters have the same names as the actors. All of the footage in the film was shot by two cameras--a color video camcorder operated by the director, Heather (Heather Donahue), and a 16-mm. black and white camera, operated by the cameraman, Josh (Joshua Leonard). Mike (Michael Williams) does the sound. All three carry backpacks, and are prepared for two or three nights of sleeping in tents in the woods. It doesn't work out that way.

Excerpt of review from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

Image:    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

If you were ever curious - this is what Super 8 looks like in high definition. Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to be one of the titles that will benefit the most from the move to 1080P. While close-ups look acceptable, other shots, particularly those at a great distance, disappear into a mass of heavy grain and noise. HD is a funny thing - it can accentuate visual attributes of a film, but can similarly bring to light its most flagrant inferiorities. Part of Blair Witch's appeal was the obvious limitations in production but somewhere along the line this rendition has lost any of its filmic charm. Not all movie presentations benefit from the `upgrade` to HD digital.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:

Like with its visuals, The Blair Witch Project won't be remembered for being a film with superior audio, so it's little wonder than that the film's DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 doesn't do much in the way to impress either. That being said, I think that we can safely say that unlike the video, the audio competently recreates the filmmaker's intentions. Since the film was supposedly shot on location with the characters talking near the microphone without any post-syncing, the mostly clear and naturalist sounding dialogue, crunching of the forest floor, and typical background noises of low-fi recordings all sound about right. The disc also comes with optional English and French subtitles and has been identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras:

The extras from the SD have been ported over in standard definition as well, with nothing new being added. Of these, fans will likely enjoy the commentary with the filmmakers and alternate endings with different versions of the last shot, but my favorite extras were those that delved into the film's mythology. Fortunately we get three featurettes here that do just that. The "Discovered Footage" is little more than deleted scenes, but do add to the story. "The Blair Witch Legacy" gives key dates and occurrences within the story's myths, and "Curse of the Blair Witch", the film's most valuable extra, features over forty minutes of the film's back story.

 

Bottom line:

Since it contains the same extras and the image isn't impressive HD, I'll recommend picking the DVD up instead (available HERE). There isn't a lot to appreciate with this Blu-ray.

Brian Montgomery+ Gary Tooze
September 8th, 2010

 

 

 

 




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