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Face-Off: Blair Witch vs. Cloverfield

Apr. 5, 2012by: Paul Huffman
Last weeks Face Off saw Armageddon trump the Transformers with a score of 15-5.

This week we will be shining the spotlight on the Found Footage film gimmick. When The Blair Witch Project hit the scene in 1999, a slew of films have been released that have tried to recapture the magic this film presented. Fast forward to 2008 and we were graced with another film that used clever viral marketing to gain an audience in Cloverfield. These two films seem to be two of the most respected within the found footage medium. But which one made the bigger impact?
Story
Three student filmmakers trek their way on into the Maryland woods to get to the bottom of a local legend known as the Blair Witch. After questioning a few local residents, they head into the trees with camera in hand, freak occurrences and mind unraveling ensue.

The granddaddy of found footage films, this was a breath of fresh horror air when it came out. Very little information was given about the myth that it focuses on, we were just as much left in the dark as these characters were. Very enthralling story, that was hammered to death throughout the following years.
A camera, a beautiful New York night, a going away party in which we get to know the characters that will become easy to root for, sprinkle in an explosion, a thrown Lady Liberty head, one huge ass threat and what do you get? One hell of a ride.

We are no stranger to monster flicks in the world of cinema. What this film did offer was some original thought, a main character with a motivation throughout the proceeding that we could relate to, and a bad ass creature design. The whole concept felt fresh while I was watching Cloverfield. Not an easy thing to pull off.
Pace
Slow, but not boring by any stretch of the imagination. We jump right into finding out what this whole local legend is all about, then follow our characters as their lives go from bad to worse. Enough went on with the characters and how they were reacting to their situation that had me hooked enough, not once did I stop giving a sh*t. That said, the films most exciting moments were definitely few and far between.
Once we got passed the introduction to our characters, Cloverfield grabbed us by the neck and didn't let go. The lengthy party scene was necessary in making sure we care about following this guy through the remainder of the film, and it did its job. Everything moved fast, one sh*tty situation after another. Bullets never stopped flyin', people never stopped dyin'. There are a lot of things you can say about Cloverfield, but in my opinion one thing you can't call it is dull.
Thrills
Not much in terms of all out scares in this film. Maybe it would have been different if I had seen it when it first came out, or shortly thereafter. I became desensitized by all the found footage knock-offs by the time I gave Blair With the time of day. I honestly found the slow deterioration of the sanity of the characters to be more unsettling than the supernatural element. The scene where it's revealed what happened to the map left me wondering what kind of sh*it the characters were going to pull next. Nothing more scary than what humans are pushed to when they're put in a situation like this.
The scene in the closing minutes with...well...the monsters closeup, gives Cloverfield the edge alone. This short scene is not alone however, may I just say those mini bastards that make extended appearances throughout the movie did not sit well with me (in a good way). Night vision subway scene being a standout, gets me every time. Get what I'm trying to say? Cloverfield delivered in the thrills and chills department. That chopper was so close to getting out of there.
Ending
Now this is what I'm talking about, by this point business sure picked up. Remember how I said I had actually seen films like the Paranormal Activity trilogy and such before catching this film? Didn't matter. The final scene in that house was extremely suspenseful for me. Do not know what it was. Less was going on then it felt like, no? Well, there is a reason the woods are a backdrop for a film like this, not a damn thing that these people could do to keep themselves from their fate. Especially without a map. What an idiot.
So....damn...close. I loved the final moments, even if what we really wanted to see was going on outside. I don't like mayhem being left up to my imagination. The real kicker is the "flashback" and the infamous whatever the hell it was dropping into the ocean in the distance. Slight edge to Cloverfield for throwing that at us and making us want more. Is the found footage gimmick necessary for the rumored sequel? Debatable.
Viral Marketing
The official website for the Blair Witch has a bunch of goodies. Delves into the myth of the Blair Witch further (dating all the way back to 1785), in depth profiles of the student filmmakers, the "aftermath" of the events of the film (photos included). It really hammers home the theme of this being a genuine course of events. It took the public by storm. To see what I mean, check out the website here.
This film is famous for it's marketing strategy, so much was kept for us and that is extremely rare in an age where we can view a whole film by watching the trailer. Even the title was kept a secret from us in the teasers. So much speculation took place, is it another Godzilla film in disguise? A Lost spin-off? It was amazing how hush hush it really was right up until release. The internet was an avenue for marketing as well, with numerous images as tie-ins to the film. Marketing this way was risky, and it takes a special film for it to work. Cloverfield was a special film.
Cloverfield
So there you have it folks, two of the same mold, one with higher stakes. Cloverfield with the found footage approach, the viral marketing, and nonstop suspense made it Blair Witch on steroids. This is just one persons opinion, what is yours?

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which movie is your favourite?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!
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6:36AM on 04/07/2012

No way...

Blair Witch could get 'story', they are both ideas, and Cloverfield executed their own better every way, except marketing.
Blair Witch could get 'story', they are both ideas, and Cloverfield executed their own better every way, except marketing.
Your Reply:



+2
5:12PM on 04/06/2012
Edge to Cloverfield for me. But Blair Witch Project is aces.
Edge to Cloverfield for me. But Blair Witch Project is aces.
Your Reply:



-5
2:17PM on 04/06/2012

It's a tie!

They're both utter and complete shit.
They're both utter and complete shit.
Your Reply:



2:44AM on 04/06/2012
Cloverfield is a masterpiece.
Cloverfield is a masterpiece.
Your Reply:



+0
9:42PM on 04/05/2012

Cloverfield!

but the end of Blair Witch scared the hell out of me, so creepy.
but the end of Blair Witch scared the hell out of me, so creepy.
Your Reply:



7:40PM on 04/05/2012
The BWP had a feeling of dread that slowly built throughout the film, and the ending was perfect. Cloverfield was more entertaining and a better film, but BWP felt genuine. I enjoyed Cloverfield, but I never believed it.
The BWP had a feeling of dread that slowly built throughout the film, and the ending was perfect. Cloverfield was more entertaining and a better film, but BWP felt genuine. I enjoyed Cloverfield, but I never believed it.
Your Reply:



4:09PM on 04/05/2012
I am pissed they dropped the ball on a Cloverfield sequel.
I am pissed they dropped the ball on a Cloverfield sequel.
Your Reply:



9:42PM on 04/05/2012
huh? they're still making it
huh? they're still making it
4:07PM on 04/05/2012
Clovie wins by a mile.
Clovie wins by a mile.
Your Reply:



2:26PM on 04/05/2012
Blair Witch invented Viral Marketing
Blair Witch invented Viral Marketing
Your Reply:



9:41PM on 04/05/2012
what Iron said
what Iron said
4:07PM on 04/05/2012
Yeah but Cloverfield perfected it.
Yeah but Cloverfield perfected it.
2:18PM on 04/05/2012
Cloverfield by a hair, but only because it's entertaining enough to watch multiple times, whereas The Blair Witch Project's appeal is more nostalgic than truly entertaining.
Cloverfield by a hair, but only because it's entertaining enough to watch multiple times, whereas The Blair Witch Project's appeal is more nostalgic than truly entertaining.
Your Reply:



+1
1:55PM on 04/05/2012
I'm saying viral marketing and ending were far superior in '' THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT '' The pace was superior , for sure , in '' CLOVERFIELD '' . But there's no damn way it's taking those two .
I'm saying viral marketing and ending were far superior in '' THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT '' The pace was superior , for sure , in '' CLOVERFIELD '' . But there's no damn way it's taking those two .
Your Reply:



+1
1:41PM on 04/05/2012
Hadn't seen Blair Witch since the theater release, but I do remember the final scene with the dude in the corner like in the stories. Honest to God, one night TWO WEEKS after I saw the movie, I couldn't go to sleep because I keep seeing that scene when I closed my eyes.
Hadn't seen Blair Witch since the theater release, but I do remember the final scene with the dude in the corner like in the stories. Honest to God, one night TWO WEEKS after I saw the movie, I couldn't go to sleep because I keep seeing that scene when I closed my eyes.
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+2
1:24PM on 04/05/2012
Why is someone who, "became desensitized by all the found footage knock-offs by the time (he) gave Blair Witch the time of day" doing this face-off?

"Witch" had way more thrills. Pretty much the whole movie was terrifying simply because many people didn't know if it was real or not.

Blair Witch is the granddaddy of all found-footage films. It defined the genre not only because it was first, but because it was so well done.
Why is someone who, "became desensitized by all the found footage knock-offs by the time (he) gave Blair Witch the time of day" doing this face-off?

"Witch" had way more thrills. Pretty much the whole movie was terrifying simply because many people didn't know if it was real or not.

Blair Witch is the granddaddy of all found-footage films. It defined the genre not only because it was first, but because it was so well done.
Your Reply:



1:22PM on 04/05/2012
Cloverfield was great and unlike most found footage films it still holds up on repeat viewings... that theater experience was one of the best I've ever had. Thrills, laughs, scares, it had it all.
Cloverfield was great and unlike most found footage films it still holds up on repeat viewings... that theater experience was one of the best I've ever had. Thrills, laughs, scares, it had it all.
Your Reply:



12:49PM on 04/05/2012
Something tells me Moreno and Law pushed this article! Cloverfield ftw
Something tells me Moreno and Law pushed this article! Cloverfield ftw
Your Reply:



-16
11:16AM on 04/05/2012

Cloverfield was not that great

Blair Witch, despite it's slow pace, had a psychological fear to it and ended with that same fear. Cloverfield was a rehashed Godzilla with great marketing.
Blair Witch, despite it's slow pace, had a psychological fear to it and ended with that same fear. Cloverfield was a rehashed Godzilla with great marketing.
Your Reply:



3:11PM on 04/05/2012
LOL. I see ten people are sheep.
LOL. I see ten people are sheep.
11:12AM on 04/05/2012
The Blair Witch gets bashed a lot, but it was the only movie I've ever seen in the theature where, when it was over, even after the lights came on, nearly everyone in the audience was still there-- discussing amungst themselves what they had just seen. That has to say something.
The Blair Witch gets bashed a lot, but it was the only movie I've ever seen in the theature where, when it was over, even after the lights came on, nearly everyone in the audience was still there-- discussing amungst themselves what they had just seen. That has to say something.
Your Reply:



12:46PM on 04/05/2012
At the time it was released most people thought is was supposed to be real footage. It sold itself as being a documentary. Unless you were a movie buff and followed movie gossip sites you'd never know otherwise going into it.
At the time it was released most people thought is was supposed to be real footage. It sold itself as being a documentary. Unless you were a movie buff and followed movie gossip sites you'd never know otherwise going into it.
11:03AM on 04/05/2012
Agreed.
Agreed.
Your Reply:



10:16AM on 04/05/2012

if cloverfield 2 has to be...

...found footage...go with a combat photojournalist who is rushing headlong into the action with the military.
...found footage...go with a combat photojournalist who is rushing headlong into the action with the military.
Your Reply:



9:55AM on 04/05/2012
Have always hated Blair Witch with a passion up until the last 10 seconds of the movie.
Have always hated Blair Witch with a passion up until the last 10 seconds of the movie.
Your Reply:



9:20AM on 04/05/2012
I mostly agreed with every verdict, and I still like Blair Witch way, way more. Feels like a genuinely scary trip into the woods. Cloverfield felt too produced for "found footage", but that's my take.
I mostly agreed with every verdict, and I still like Blair Witch way, way more. Feels like a genuinely scary trip into the woods. Cloverfield felt too produced for "found footage", but that's my take.
Your Reply:



2:20PM on 04/06/2012
Word
Word
12:42PM on 04/05/2012
yeah same here. Blair Witch isn't particularly thrilling, but man did it creep me out the first time i saw it
yeah same here. Blair Witch isn't particularly thrilling, but man did it creep me out the first time i saw it
8:38AM on 04/05/2012

Cloverfield

I always evaluate a film with its characters, and I cared for these people the most. Hell, that sad ending gets me everytime.
I always evaluate a film with its characters, and I cared for these people the most. Hell, that sad ending gets me everytime.
Your Reply:



8:12AM on 04/05/2012
Yeah gotta agree rec is one of the best found footage films in my opinion and chronicle

I enjoyed both these although on a second viewing disliked Blair witch...for me cloverfield is the film Godzilla wishes it was and wins for me
Yeah gotta agree rec is one of the best found footage films in my opinion and chronicle

I enjoyed both these although on a second viewing disliked Blair witch...for me cloverfield is the film Godzilla wishes it was and wins for me
Your Reply:



8:10AM on 04/05/2012
Blair Witch wasn't a movie, it was a marketing campaign.
Blair Witch wasn't a movie, it was a marketing campaign.
Your Reply:



7:41AM on 04/05/2012
I have to pick Blair Witch. I don't think the sneak a peak, viral marking was anywhere near the marking BW did in the mid ninties. They had a good set of people beliving that the movie was real. And they did it back when the internet was just getting popular. Also The way BW was set up the acting, while annoying, felt more realistic, as oppose to some people acting for the shaky cam.
I have to pick Blair Witch. I don't think the sneak a peak, viral marking was anywhere near the marking BW did in the mid ninties. They had a good set of people beliving that the movie was real. And they did it back when the internet was just getting popular. Also The way BW was set up the acting, while annoying, felt more realistic, as oppose to some people acting for the shaky cam.
Your Reply:



+0
6:08AM on 04/05/2012
Blair Witch was more ground breaker but aside the found footage idea, it's not a good film. I never found it scary for one second, there's barely any story, and the characters were annoying. Cloverfield on the otherhand showed what this format could do. So yeah, I agree with the result.
Blair Witch was more ground breaker but aside the found footage idea, it's not a good film. I never found it scary for one second, there's barely any story, and the characters were annoying. Cloverfield on the otherhand showed what this format could do. So yeah, I agree with the result.
Your Reply:



4:52AM on 04/05/2012
Blair witch is by far the better movie. It has a real found footage feel to it as opposed to Cloverfield. That was just bad acting in full effect with unlikable and bland characters...
Blair witch is by far the better movie. It has a real found footage feel to it as opposed to Cloverfield. That was just bad acting in full effect with unlikable and bland characters...
Your Reply:



3:34AM on 04/05/2012

Bigger impact?

If it's a question of bigger impact then there should not be any doubt that the answer is Blair Witch. IMHO Blair Witch is to "Found Footage" films as "Doom" or "Street Fighter 2" are to "FPS" or Beat-em-up games. (I don't think it is necessary to to elaborate here, you all understand what I mean).
If it's a question of bigger impact then there should not be any doubt that the answer is Blair Witch. IMHO Blair Witch is to "Found Footage" films as "Doom" or "Street Fighter 2" are to "FPS" or Beat-em-up games. (I don't think it is necessary to to elaborate here, you all understand what I mean).
Your Reply:



3:04AM on 04/05/2012
Cloverfield. It was fresh when it was released.
Cloverfield. It was fresh when it was released.
Your Reply:



2:07AM on 04/05/2012
I would go with Cloverfield not only because I liked it a lot, but my JoBlo Movie Podcast Host would be sad if Cloverfield lost this face off
I would go with Cloverfield not only because I liked it a lot, but my JoBlo Movie Podcast Host would be sad if Cloverfield lost this face off
Your Reply:



+4
1:43AM on 04/05/2012

3 things,,,

1. I prefer Cloverfield too... However, I feel both films were very underrated, and were misunderstood by mainstream audiences.

2. No. I don't think anyone buys DVD's anymore... not if they have another option anyway.

3. WTF!?! Ryan Reynolds will be the next Batman??? Oh, please don't let them ruin my childhood... again!
1. I prefer Cloverfield too... However, I feel both films were very underrated, and were misunderstood by mainstream audiences.

2. No. I don't think anyone buys DVD's anymore... not if they have another option anyway.

3. WTF!?! Ryan Reynolds will be the next Batman??? Oh, please don't let them ruin my childhood... again!
Your Reply:



2:41AM on 04/05/2012
I only buy DVDs because I hate the Blu-Ray DVD cases. I own close to 400 DVDs and I have all my DVDs displayed on a DVD shelf and it looks nice with all the cases being the same size for the most part. A Blu-Ray DVD would look odd being mixed in with all the other DVDs because they're short, thin and are ugly with the blue on the case.
I only buy DVDs because I hate the Blu-Ray DVD cases. I own close to 400 DVDs and I have all my DVDs displayed on a DVD shelf and it looks nice with all the cases being the same size for the most part. A Blu-Ray DVD would look odd being mixed in with all the other DVDs because they're short, thin and are ugly with the blue on the case.
1:50AM on 04/05/2012
Nevermind... Just had a sigh of relief when I saw the date on that article... That's twice now that these April Fools Day articles have pissed me off... The first was because I thought that Ryan Gosling' "Walt" biopic was an awesome idea.
Nevermind... Just had a sigh of relief when I saw the date on that article... That's twice now that these April Fools Day articles have pissed me off... The first was because I thought that Ryan Gosling' "Walt" biopic was an awesome idea.
1:01AM on 04/05/2012
'Cloverfield' is very good, but 'Blair Witch' always gets under my skin. I consider it one of the best horror films of all time.
'Cloverfield' is very good, but 'Blair Witch' always gets under my skin. I consider it one of the best horror films of all time.
Your Reply:



+3
12:41AM on 04/05/2012
Blair Witch for me, the story kept me engaged throughout and i loved the ending. Try Cannibal Holocaust of being the origin of found footage
Blair Witch for me, the story kept me engaged throughout and i loved the ending. Try Cannibal Holocaust of being the origin of found footage
Your Reply:



12:24AM on 04/05/2012
Gotta agree. Though 'Rec' is the only found footage movie I really liked.
Gotta agree. Though 'Rec' is the only found footage movie I really liked.
Your Reply: