The Blair Witch Project
Region 4 / PAL / Magna Pacific
At first sight it seems that people either loved or hated it. But on closer examination, people seem to fit into one of four categories when it comes to their opionion of The Blair Witch Project. They either:
1) were scared shitless by it and declared it the scariest movie they've ever seen and will never camp out again;
2) were scared shitless by it but, too macho to admit it, claimed that it was a piece of non-scary crap;
3) were so stupid that they just didn't 'get it' and claimed that it was a piece of non-scary crap; or
4) recognised it as a genuinely creepy and original (despite any Italian cannibal pictures with a similar concept) picture and applauded the makers for producing one of the few straight horror movies in the last decade. A movie that works so well thanks to totally believable performances by the three leads, no doubt courtesy of the unique way in which it was made. Sure, the characters (mostly Heather) are irritating at times, but hey, people in highly stressful situations are irritating. And then people go and whinge about how 'Oh, sure, like they'd still be filming with all this stuff happening'. Yes, sure, agreed, if you look into it deeply enough, you'll find loads of unrealistic bits and pieces. There's a little thing called suspension of disbelief, man! Besides, if they'd turned the cameras off, it wouldn't have made for that great a picture, huh? These guys have made a movie that comes as close as I've ever seen to making something that's totally realistic while remaining thoroughly entertaining. Jesus, I can't tell you how fed up I was with all those crappy teeny-bopper slasher picks flooding the market lately, so thank you very much Haxan Films, for at least giving me hope that perhaps horror isn't quite as dead as it seemed. It's fair enough to bag a movie for genuine reasons, but when it's out of ignorance or jealousy, it just makes you look like a complete tool!
No prizes for guessing which category I found myself in.
Now let's talk about the transfer. It is absolutely perfect! What ticks me off is people who give movies like this and say, Clerks, low marks for picture quality because they're 'a bit grainy'. These are the sort of people who would fit into category 3 above. Bottom line is that this DVD looks like it's supposed to. Thankfully, the R4 release isn't window-boxed like the R1 version. I can't be sure, but from comparing the feature with the deleted scene, which was clearly raw video, it looks like the video elements have been taken from a film print. While this may sound like a bad thing, I find that it doesn't adversely effect it at all, and it also gives us the good old PAL advantage. Sound is also perfectly presented.
Extras wise, we get all the stuff that the R4 had, minus the DVD ROM stuff, which I'm sure is no great loss. The commentary is superb with lots of great annecdotes and interesting tidbits. One very minor gripe here is that the commentary out of sync by a few seconds. But no biggie, really. Of course, the other big extra is the tie in mockumentary 'Curse Of The Blair Witch'. It's nice to see this without some godawful introduction by some stupid Australian TV celebrity who just wants to feel like they're part of the Blair Witch phenomenon. A deleted scene, trailers and production notes wrap up the extras.
Overall, this is a class effort from Becker and Magna Pacific (their first DVD I believe). Apart from the slighly out of sync commentary and the irritating Extras menu (menu items keep disappearing), I can't see much room for improvement on this one.