Views from the Sofa’s 100 Greatest Scenes is a list of the 100 greatest moments in the movies. This could be long introductions, moments of action or great dialogue between characters. The scenes are in no particular order and come from many different types of movies.
The Blair Witch Project changed movies forever. It introduced Found Footage to a mainstream audience and started a craze which has only just begun to die-down. It also changed the way horror movies were made, taking them back to something simpler, less grotesque, gory and more about implied terror than actual showing the menace. All this culminated in the best scene of the movie and the one that confused a few but terrified most.
Greatest Scene Number 18: The Blair Witch Project: Standing in the Corner
This isn’t the most famous scene from the movie. That scene belongs to the up-nose shot of Heather Donahue, hysterically and fearfully saying goodbye to loved ones as the terror of her situation hits home. That is a great scene but it has become so parodied that it has lost it’s initial impact. This scene still shocks, even on repeat viewings.
It’s impact is in it’s simplicity. Many horror movies build to a huge finale. There is usually a last stand-off between the “monster” and the heroes but The Blair Witch Project was never about that. This was about an unseen terror. There was never actually a “witch” to be scared by and it was usually screams, giggling and late-night rustling that amped-up the scare factor.
That is part of what makes the final scene so different because this is where you expect to see the monster. As Heather and Mike search for their long-missing friend, and follow his constant screams and shouts, you are anxiously waiting for the moments that the “witch” will appear and you anticipation will pay-off.
This isn’t what you get though. What you do get isn’t any less scary, just not your typical horror movie finale. The two characters search the house, with the point of view skipping constantly from one camera to another. All you are watching is a house covered in weird markings, some pagan, some tiny, blood-stained handprints and other indecipherable writings. The whole time Josh’s voice can be heard, screaming and shouting for help.
This is when the first shock gets you. Mike’s colour camera is dropped suddenly after a clear jolt or hit. Something has got him and everyone in the audience strains to see what. Again, no joy. Directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez still won’t reveal their monster.
Finally Heather is all alone and her screams and frantic running add to the horror of the scene. The fact her camera is black and white helps too, with the environment being less than clear and the audience straining even further to try to see anything that could be responsible for the film’s events. Still no luck though, until we see Mike in the corner.
It lasts for less than five seconds but stays with you for so much longer. Mike standing in the corner is terrifying because for those viewers with good memories, it follows a pattern of a child-killer described in the first act of the film. This is a description of a man who used to place one child in the corner of the room while he attacked another in the center. Seeing Mike in the corner of the room brings home the harsh reality of what is about to happen to Heather and almost as quick as the realisation hits, Heather’s camera is knocked to the floor.
That is the end of the movie but the audience does not leave disappointed. It doesn’t matter that there is no monster or witch because a finality has been reached and some sort of question feels like it has been answered. It also sends a chill down the spine, as the view of Mike, motionless and unresponsive, refusing to move like a terrified child, is as scary as any monster that could have actually been on-screen.
Overall, the final scene of The Blair Witch Project is the scariest of the movie and subsequently the most effective. It brings a great finale to the movie without feeling like it has to reveal the horrible “monster” that has been responsible for the film’s events. It also offers a chilling image, with Josh motionless in the corner but revealing so much.