Note: You can also see these installments and other science-fiction/horror/fantasy postings over on Sci-Fi Media, which Budd started a while ago and has invited a few other nerds (err — I mean enthusiasts) to contribute posts. There’s a lot of good stuff building up there, so go check it out.
This installment of A Nightmare on Kel’s Street brings two movies that I really liked that I thought would make an interesting juxtaposition: “The Ring” and “The Blair Witch Project”.
When I first watched “The Ring”, I found it to be an incredibly well-done horror yarn, and I still do. Naomi Watts as a single-mom that inadvertently stumbles into a cursed videotape (see, just like in “Vacancy” nothing good comes from the VCR). The curse plays out that you’ll die in 7 days, unless of course, you show the video to someone else.
The horror elements are really well done – the plot unfolds at a good pace with some good twists, the tape is really disturbing, the evil Samara is really creepy, and the horse on the ferry… don’t get me started about the horse on the ferry. Though perhaps, my favorite thing was gorgeous cinematography (something rarely brought up in horror flicks…) – taking place in the Pacific Northwest, the whole movie seemed to take place in a muted palette of greys and blues. 8 stars
I think it’s interesting to contrast that movie to “The Blair Witch Project” – which was certainly a phenomenon about a decade ago. The premise is that a video (I can’t remember, was it also a VCR tape?!?!) is recovered from a lost group of slackers that went off into the Maryland woods in search of a local legend, the Blair Witch.
This film couldn’t be more different than “The Ring” – whereas “The Ring” was gorgeously shot and had great production values, “Blair Witch” relied on a home-video-esque handheld shooting that certainly tested audience’s motion-sickness defences. Also, by using unknown actors, the filmmakers really tried to capture a sense of “realism”. Moreso than most, this movie has really been put through the ringer (get it? oh nevermind…) of popular opinion. At first a phenomenon and then receiving the all-too-predictable backlash of “it’s just a gimmick movie”. I’m glad that I hadn’t seen it or thought about it in a long time, because you know what it is? Scary. 9 stars
All horror movies ask you to suspend your disbelief but in different ways. “The Ring” is a gorgeous and creepy and visually disturbing and asks you to put aside the idea of a cursed videotape and spirits crawling out of televisions. “Blair Witch” does of great job of tapping into the very common feeling of “hey, did you hear that?” coupled to an active imagination. There’s very little “action” and almost the whole movie plays on fear and mounting psychological anxiety. It’s very easy to get creeped out when you’re alone in the woods at night — and so the leap you have to make for it is pretty small.