“Four Corners of Fear” is a found footage web series and parody/comedy directed by Eduardo Sánchez and written by the ensemble cast that also stars in the web series: Evan Ferrante, Dan Karcher, Joshua Leonard, Eduardo Eduardo Sánchez, and Michael C. Williams. The series follows Eduardo Sánchez (director of The Blair Witch Project) filming “BW 3,” the fictitious third installment in the Blair Witch franchise.
This is a case where art mimics life, as the real BW 3, Blair Witch (2016), was released in fall 2016, three years after the YouTube release of Four Corners of Fear.
The web series is a straight-up comedy consisting of fourteen episodes, with a cumulative runtime of 66 minutes. The show covers the filming of BW 3, including behind the scenes outtakes and interviews with the production crew and cast. Four Corners of Fear reunites many of the cast and crew members from the original The Blair Witch Project (1999). All of the cast members play themselves, except for Evan Ferrante, who portrays actor Tom Cruise.
Since Four Corners of Fear is a comedy, parody, and breaks of the fourth wall with cast from the original film, this review takes a slightly different approach from our standard format and contains spoilers—although, knowing what will happen should not impact the enjoyment of the web series.
The series opens with director Eduardo Sánchez explaining that the studio contacted the original crew about making another Blair movie in the same spirit as the original The Blair Witch Project (1999).
In an explanation that’s as outlandish as the series itself, Eduardo Sánchez goes on to explain the meaning of the title, Four Corners of Fear: “The first movie is the first corner of fear. The second movie was not really a corner—it was more like a closet. Sort of in the same room but not really directly related to the Blair mythology. This third movie is the third corner of fear. And finally, it will be four corners of fear. This movie really will be three times as scary as the first one because it’s four corners of fear.”
The new film stars Joshua Leonard and Michael C. Williams, who reprise their characters Josh and Michael from the original The Blair Witch Project. Actress Heather Donahue, who plays Heather in the first film elects not to take part in the new film, apparently due to a personal issue with actor Joshua Leonard—Joshua Leonard hints that the two actors had an affair that did not end well. Also in the film is Tom Cruise played by Tom Cruise impersonator Evan Ferrante.
The total budget for the new film is $30,025,000, $30 million of which goes to Tom Cruise, leaving $25,000 to pay the cast and crew and produce the whole film. To save money, Eduardo Sánchez shoots the film in the backyard behind his house and hires his young daughter as a production assistant at a rate of $1 per day. Since the film is shot in Eduardo Sánchez’s backyard, the actors have to keep their voices down to avoid disturbing the neighbors.
To the dismay of Joshua Leonard and Michael C. Williams, they soon come to realize that Eduardo Sánchez has no clear direction for the film and is fabricating the story on the fly during filming.
In one scene, Joshua Leonard has to climb a tree but there aren’t any branches to get purchase. The crew props a house-ladder against the tree and Eduardo Sánchez directs Joshua Leonard to climb the ladder and pretend it’s the tree, further adding that he will “CGI-out” the ladder. Eduardo Sánchez’s go-to solution for just about every technical challenge the crew encounters during the shoot is to either “CGI-in” or “CGI-out” the obstacle.
Between the budgetary constraints and growing dissention on the set, Eduardo Sánchez is faced with the dilemma as to how he can save the fledgling production. His solution: add an alien, played, of course, by himself. An interview with The Blair Witch Project (1999) co-creator Dan Myrick reveals that he did not take part in BW 3 because he wanted the Blair Witch to be a robot rather than an alien, because “robots are in.”
Will BW 3 ever see the light of day? The answer is yes, but definitely not the fictitious version of BW 3 that’s shot in this web series. We are of course referring to the 2016 theatrical release Blair Witch.
Found Footage Cinematography, Reason, and Purity
Rating Four Corners of Fear using this site’s established found footage criteria is challenging given that the web series is a parody with actors playing themselves. As such, we take a slightly different approach to reviewing Four Corners of Fear.
Generally speaking the cinematography is appropriate for what amounts to a found footage mockumentary. The web series is a composite of footage from BW 3, behind the scenes footage shot during the filming of BW 3, and interviews of cast and crew.
Given that the Evan Ferrante is not actually Tom Cruise, and the cast and crew from The Blair Witch Project (1999) are not missing, the plausibility of Four Corners of Fear as actual found footage is brought into question. However, we overlook these concerns since the web series is intended as a comedy mocking The Blair Witch Project (1999) and found footage films in general.
The found footage filming reasons used throughout Four Corners of Fear are sound. The primary filming reason is the filming of the new Blair Witch film, BW 3. Secondary to shooting the feature is the capture of behind the scenes footage and outtakes as well as supplementary interviews to complement the film.
The acting throughout Four Corners of Fear is very good. By definition, this web series breaks the fourth wall and is completely self-aware. With the noteworthy exception of Even Ferrante, the entire cast play themselves taking part in a fictitious film production.
Eduardo Sánchez’s deadpan serious take on the production coupled with his evasiveness when anyone questions him about the film is funny beyond words. Equally as humorous is Joshua Leonard’s growing cynicism as the production moves forward and he realizes that nothing quite adds up (particularly the budget). Michael C. Williams plays opposite of Joshua Leonard, and is grateful for the opportunity to leave his day job as a furniture mover and star in BW 3.
Dan Karcher plays his role straight-laced as though this were a real production, which only adds to the humor given the futility of Eduardo Sánchez’s efforts and absurdity of the plot. Greg Hale, producer on The Blair Witch Project (1999), is highly entertaining when his buttons are pushed by Dan Karcher about not being involved in the new project.
Evan Ferrante is great as the Tom Cruise lookalike. His voice and mannerisms are close enough to Tom Cruise such that viewers are likely to quickly accept his role and set aside that he’s not the real deal. His narcissistic attitude and complete obliviousness to what’s really taking place on-set makes the web series that much more funny to watch.
The plot of Four Corners of Fear is as funny as it is ridiculous, which is a good thing. Most of what happens is a homage to The Blair Witch Project (1999), while poking fun at found footage. The cast and crew clearly had a blast making this web series and that translates into a fun watch for viewers.
During one of the funnier scenes, Dan Karcher is armed with a shovel digging trenches in Eduardo Sánchez’s backyard to satisfy a clause in Tom Cruise’s contract. When prodded as to why, Tom Cruise explains that that trenches are for the actors to stand in to make him look taller.
The cast also don’t mind poking fun at themselves either—the web series contains a healthy amount of self-deprecating humor. During one of the interview segments, Joshua Leonard says he doesn’t remember much about making The Blair Witch Project (1999) as he was just coming off a speedball, heroin, and cocaine habit. Similarly, Michael C. Williams reminisces about his job as a furniture mover. Finally, Eduardo Sánchez portrays himself as a director who is clueless as to the ludicrousness of the entire project.
Each of the fourteen episodes has a short stinger following the end credits, so we encourage viewers to watch through.