The movie begins with text which reads, "In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. One year later, their footage was found." The remaining 79 minutes of The Blair Witch Project is "extracted" from that footage, all of which is shot with handheld camcorders and a 16 mm camera. But don't be fooled by Artisan Entertainment's efforts to convince the average moviegoer that this film is true.
[Spoiler Warning: Major Plot Points Revealed Ahead] After interviewing a few local townsfolk about the Blair Witch legend, the three young adults hike deep into the nearby woods to get footage of locations associated with the legend. (The legend involves a witch who abducts and kills both children and adults). Needless to say, they get lost, and each night scary things happen. Noises in the dark. Slime appearing on camping gear. Then Josh disappears and a bloody bundle of twigs is "delivered" which contains what they believe to be a part of his body. Finally the two remaining filmmakers stumble (at night) upon an abandoned, rundown house from which emanates moaning and screaming. They race to investigate the elusive sound. Then the camera is knocked to the ground and the credits roll.
Positive Elements: Unlike the glamorized portrayals of witchcraft presented in much of popular media (think of shows such as Charmed), this film convinces viewers that witches are scary, evil and undesirable. Also, Heather and Michael care enough for their friend that they put aside their own fear to search for Josh when he is abducted.
Spiritual Content: The very title and premise of the film fixates on witchcraft and the occult. But to be fair, the somewhat simplistic execution of the plot places it in the same category as a very scary campfire ghost story, not The Exorcist. Seemingly occult symbols appear in the film (the three characters certainly interpret them as such). A Bible-carrying townswoman who is referred to as the "town loony" provides information on the Witch legend.
Sexual Content: At worst, a vague reference to having sex.
Violent Content: None.
Crude or Profane Language: Tons. Several hundred crude and profane expressions (including nearly 200 uses of the f-word and the s-word) are bandied about. The name Jesus Christ is abused numerous times.
Drug and Alcohol Content: The three characters smoke cigarettes (until they run out in the woods). Before they embark on their adventure, they drink Scotch. Heather asks if anyone has any weed (marijuana).
Other Negative Elements: Heather is shown (from a distance) going to the bathroom in the woods.
Summary: The mere absence of sex and violence isn't a good enough reason to see a movie. The Blair Witch Project is an intense, ultra-realistic scare-fest, designed to exploit occult imagery to generate fear. While supernatural beings and witches do exist, and a healthy fear of such is proper, using them to incite paranoia crosses the line. Add in the prolific vulgarities and this film finds itself in the "must avoid" category.