When post-punk outfit IDLES first burst onto the scene, they were hard to gauge. The unflinching imagery in the group’s debut album, combined with the sheer heavy-weight angst of frontman Joe Talbot marked them out as one of the most in-your-face bands to emerge from the UK in a long long while. And yet, at the same time, their music seemed to contain something a great deal more heartfelt: lyrics that confronted the reality of caring for ones own parents, of grief, and of toxic masculinity. There is an aggression to IDLES that belies a deeper emotional sensitivity. In that way, they are unique. And whilst it has seen them accused of virtue signalling and champagne socialism, their honest approach has also garnered them a huge fanbase and made them one of the biggest bands in the UK.
Back in 2017, IDLES seemed absolutely unstoppable. After the success of 2016 singles ‘Well Done’ and ‘Divide & Conquer’, they released Brutalism to critical acclaim, heralding a new form of left-leaning punk that wore its liberalism on its sweat-drenched sleeve. That same year, Joe Talbot revealed his favourite horror film of all time, a piece so chilling it is still just as revered as it was when it was released in 1999.
“My favourite horror movie is The Blair Witch Project”, Talbot wrote. “It was the first time I felt true empathy for the victims as the hand-held cameras felt so claustrophobic and their predicament so real. I felt trapped in the cinema and I remember it sat with me for days. It was also the first website I ever went on.
“It took five minutes to load and I remember sitting patiently in the school library with my friend as we argued as to whether it was real or not. I think its verisimilitude is something that I strive for with my art. It’s one of the only horror films I’ve enjoyed because I prefer realism. I don’t like to escape with my art I like to believe it and live it. I want our audiences to believe our songs and feel trapped with me.”
“We argued as to whether it was real or not,” he added, in what is an extremely relatable note about a now-iconic movie. It is The Blair Witch Project’s startling ability to convince audiences that the chilling events it depicts are entirely real that has made it an enduring classic.
Relying on a combination of hand-held cameras and cast improvisation, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez revolutionised the horror genre, telling the story of a group of student filmmakers who hike into the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch.
The audience is shown what Myrick and Sánchezis cunningly describe as “recovered footage,” completely blurring our understanding of what is real and what is not. As the presence of the witch grows stronger, we follow the students as they gradually lose their minds, falling under the spell of a creature that we never – not even once – get to see.