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Two great horror films about the fear of the unknown in the wild. While I do believe The Descent does not get its just due for being a great film, I still have to give it to the Blair Witch Project. No movie so perfectly captured the feeling of sheer, honest terror the way BWP did.
Now this is tough. Both are, in my opinion, very scary films. I don't really know why people shun Blair Witch as much as they do, I think it's a very creepy film and it was very fresh and original when it first came out. But while Blair Witch was scary, The Descent was probably one of (if not the) most terrifying film I have seen in my life. A lot of classic titles which mainstream critics tarnish that accolade with e.g. The Exorcist, Alien etc I don't actually find that scary. Very well made and occasionally creepy certainly, but not scary (I suspect it's a generational thing). The Descent may not be a highly regarded film, or even that great a film, but for me it's unmatched as a horror film with more than just a few cheap shocks. Going to go with the Descent on this one, but Blair Witch is still good IMO.
*edits "The films get tarnished with the accolade of "scariest of all time", thus I am often disappointed". Also not"unmatched as a horror film" as there are a lot of great horror films out there with more going for them than just the scares, like alien, but I would certainly regard "The Descent" as "unmatched as a constipation aid".
All the hype (positive and negative) around The Blair Witch Project was so blown out of proportion it seems like nobody has any perspective talking about it. It's a horror film that, for all its gaffes, relies on the imagination. That's what horror movies needed in the 90s, and it's what they still need, albeit probably in a different way than TBWP. The Descent has similarities, but after you hear and see the monsters enough it's like "whatever".
Descent, not even close. Blair Witch was alright as a horror film but also a sign of the indulgence of the 90's indie film movement. The Descent is actually building a legacy(the sequel is fantastic) while Blair Witch was just a one trick pony.
No question...The Descent. The movie delivered on every level. A horror movie that finally lived up to the hype...