ANOKS: The Ring & The Blair Witch Project

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”.

The Ring

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.

Watts is pretty

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.

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

A Walk in the Woods

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.

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8 thoughts on “ANOKS: The Ring & The Blair Witch Project

  1. Great points about the cinematography, Steve. The first point about the Ring was that I kept doing double-takes due to Watt’s unnerving resemblance to Meg Ryan. It was scary, but to me it was in an all-too-slick way. I agree the scenes were gorgeous, though.

    Blair Witch scared me to death. I suppose spending weeks on end at camp, in the forest in the pitch dark, aids in the imagination aspect of it. And considering these were film -students-, I think they did a pretty good job.

    • Yeah — I think “Blair Witch” got lost in all the hyperbole about it — and it wasn’t helped that they made a really terrible follow-up — but going back and watching the original?? Way scary!

  2. “Blair Witch” does of great job of tapping into the very common feeling of “hey, did you hear that?” coupled to an active imagination.

    Nothing compares to the things that we can imagine. That’s why the “blank” verse in “My Home Town” is so salacious and why monster movies (at least those made since 1965) just get silly once you actually see the critter on the screen. Watching the first half of “It” left me honestly scared; watching the second half left me in giggles (“A giant spider? They are afraid of something that the Terminex man could handle?”).

    • I usually think of Tom Lehrer being a little more folksy-happy than the lyrics from that tune! I completely agree about “IT” — both in film and in the book — that turned me off to King for a decade, I think.

      As for monster movies, “Jaws” works on so many levels (though it’s not a classic monster movie, I know) and I did like “Cloverfield”.

  3. Pingback: A Nightmare on Kel’s Street (tentative schedule) « KellyVision

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