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THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (R) (82 min.) _ There are no howling cats jumping out of closets, or point-of-view camera angles to allow us a maniac's perspective in The Blair Witch Project. There's no violence, and only a flash of blood. Some moviegoers will be disappointed because this isn't the same old routine that trained them to confuse gross-outs with style.

Make no mistake: There has never been another horror movie like this one, and its inevitable imitators probably won't do it this well again.

Above all, there are no explanations for what supposedly happens to three student filmmakers venturing into a Maryland forest to make a documentary about an occult legend. When you watch The Haunting or The Exorcist, there are reasonably fantastic answers to every question, usually delivered in scenes heavy with explanatory dialogue.

Nobody has time to dissect the deadly crisis in The Blair Witch Project because co-creators Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez concocted a brilliant conceit that makes the drama feel immediate and the open-endedness of the story completely plausible.

The Blair Witch Project is the kind of movie that tempts a viewer to spill the beans, then regret having spoiled a unique film for someone else. Buy a ticket and hold your tongue. Horror movies haven't possessed this much sinister fun in a long, long time.

Now playing at selected theaters around Tampa Bay. A