The Blair Witch Project Review

Colin Polonowski has reviewed the Region 1 DVD release of The Blair Witch Project

One of the great things about modified DVD players is that you get to see some films before they even hit the cinema’s. This is usually limited to average movies which don’t do to well at the box-office, however every now and again we get to see a hugely hyped film in our homes before some people get to see it in the cinema – The Blair Witch Project is one of these!
It’s a story of three film students who decide to make a documentary on the myth of the Blair Witch. The head off into the forest to spend a few days researching and capturing their investigations on home video. However, once they enter the woods things start to go wrong – first they get lost and then things start to happen…

Full screen?

If you pay a visit to the DVD newsgroups at the moment you’ll see a number of threads started by people moaning that the movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 4:3 – IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE THAT WAY. The movie was filmed via a standard HI8 video camera and a widescreen version never existed. That said the picture is slightly windowboxed – probably to make people see that it is supposed to be a video and not a high budget blockbuster. I personally would have preferred it if the borders were removed.

Of course, the other effect of the video origins is the grainyness and unstable picture – both intentional, and both identical to what’s in the cinema. As an example of a perfect transfer this is pretty good – it’s not an example of the crystal clarity of a good DVD picture! Obviously, the picture isn’t anamorphic either!

Another thing people have moaned about is the Dolby Surround soundtrack – once again this is due to the video origins of the film. There never has been a DD5.1 soundtrack, and to introduce one onto the DVD would probably ruin the effect.

So, the transfer from film to DVD is what everyone should be expecting – there’s nothing to complain about here. Whether or not you like the style of filming in general is a different matter and I’m not going to go into it here.

Extras wise, there appears to be a lot here. However the only really good extras are the “Curse of the Blair Witch” documentary which gives an ideal background to the movie and the Directors/Producers commentary. Watch the documentary before the film and you may even enjoy the movie more! Other than that, we also have the trailers and notes which are pretty standard fare for most discs. One interesting addition is the trailer for “The Stand” on DVD – the first double sided dual layer DVD.

Conclusion

I suppose it was inevitable that the film wouldn’t live up to the hype – nothing ever does! If I hadn’t heard anything about it before I put the disc in the player I feel that I would have had a much more enjoyable experience. That said, I wasn’t bored – there’s a lot more to the movie than you first realise and I dare anyone to wander around a creaking house in the middle of the night without feeling a little apprehensive after watching the Blair Witch Project.

The transfer to DVD, while maybe not to everyone’s tastes, is flawless and I have a lot of respect for the people who encoded what must have been a very difficult disc.

I’m happy with the disc and I’ll be watching it again…

Colin Polonowski

Updated: Feb 27, 1999


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