The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 American horror film written and directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick. It was one of the first films to utilize the "found footage" filiming technique. Other films such as Cloverfield, Diary of the Dead, and Paranormal Activity would use this same technique.
The film follows three young filmmakers attempting to chronicle a local myth, the titular Blair Witch. It begins with a disclaimer that the students went missing and that this is the last known footage of them. The students, Heather Donahue, Micheal C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard, go to Burkittsville, Maryland where they interview some locals. These locals tell varying tales of missing children and personal accounts. Some locals tell a tale of a man named Rustin Parr who kidnapped and murdered seven children in his home in the woods.
The next day, the filmmakers explore the woods of Burkittsville more in depth. They come across two fishermen who recall a tale of a girl who went missing, who now supposedly haunts the woods. The students move on to Coffin Rock where, apparently, five men were brutally and ritualistically murdered. Later, they camp for the night. When they wake up, they begin to suspect they are lost. They find an old cemetery that has several small stone piles. One of the campers distrubs one such pile. Later in the night, mysterious sounds are heard from all around the tent.The next day, the students attempt to retur to the car, but are hopelessly lost. The ramble through the woods until sunset and set up camp. They hear the same noises as the previous night, but cannot place the source. When they awake, they find three small rock piles, similar to the ones in the graveyard. When they go out hiking for the day, Heather states having lost the map. Mike fesses up to having kicked the map into a creek in frustration. They continue on, and find ominous humaniod figures made of sticks hanging from the trees. That night at camp, they hear sounds of children and "morphing sounds". An unknonw presence shakes the tent and the students run in fright. They huddle together in a field until sunrise. The filmmakers return to camp to find some equipment destroyed and a slimy mess on some of their things. Later, they cross a creek that they had previously crossed and realize that they are lost again. They set up camp again, having wasted a whole day. When they wake the next day, Josh is missing. Upon camping that night, they hear him screaming out in the darkness. Mike mentions that it might be the mysterious entites trying to trick them. The next morning Heather finds a bundle of sticks that opens up to a piece of flanel, teeth, and hair; supposedly belonging to Josh.
Heather leaves an apologetic memorandum on the camera and that night the remaining campers hear Josh's screams. This time they decide to investigate. They come upon a decrepit home in the woods. Mike goes upstairs and Heather tries to follow. Mike hears Josh's voice downstairs instead and they go to the basement. Mike's camera documents what appears to be a struggle and Heather calls out to him. A final image of Mike standing in the corner appears and Heather seems to fall in part of a struggle as well. The footage ends in silence.
List of DeathsEdit
|Name||Cause of Death||Killer||On Screen||Notes|
|Joshua 'Josh' Leonard||Found dead, dismembered||Blair Witch||No|
|Michael 'Mike' Williams||Unknown||Blair Witch||No|
|Heather Donahue||Attacked and killed off-screen||Blair Witch||No|
- Heather Donahue as Heather Donahue
- Joshua Leonard as Joshua 'Josh' Leonard
- Michael C. Williams as Michael 'Mike' Williams
The Blair Witch Project began production in 1994. Dialogue was improvised. The directors put out an ad for actors with good improv skills. Filming begain in 1997 and lasted eight days. Most of the movie was filmed in Seneca Creek State Park, some scenes were actually filmed in Burkittsville Maryland. Some of the townsfolk interviewed were not actors. Donahue had never worked with a camera before, and was given a crash course in two days. Teeth were donated by a dentist for a prop. Production budgets range from as low as $20,000 to $750,000.
The Blair Witch Project was released on July 30, 1999. A publicity stunt put online suggested the film was a documentary of real events. The Blair Witch Project grossed over $200,000,000.
The movie was widely acclaimed by critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an 87%, where as its audiance gave it a 55%. It also holds a score of 81/100 on Metacritic. Its groundbreaking "found footage" feature helped it garner a warmer review from all critics.
The film's internet campaign was one of the first of its kind. The movie's official website had fake police reports and newsreel-style like interviews. Hence, some people thought there were actually missing teenagers, causing more internet arguments and attention.
Entertainment Weekly gave the film the 99th spot on their list of 100 best films from 1983 to 2008. The Chicago Film Critics Association put the film at the #12 spot on their list of "Top 100 Scariest Movies" list.
Due to the cameraman's inexperience with camera work, many shots are shaky and nauseating. Some moviegoers reported motion sickness and even vomiting as a result.
A sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, was released to poor critical reception. A third film named Blair Witch (which acts as a direct sequel to The Blair Witch Project) was released in September 2016.
- In a scene where the main actors are sleeping in a tent at night, the tent suddenly shakes violently and they all get scared. This was unscripted and the director shook the tent; the actors actually were scared.
- The directors kept in touch with actors Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard with walkie-talkies, to ensure the three would not become lost during their trek. Reportedly, they got lost at least three times.
- The three leads believed the Blair Witch was a real legend during filming, though, of course, they knew the film was going to be fake. Only after the film's release did they discover that the entire mythology was made up by the film's creators.
- The reactions from Heather, Mike and Josh, when they discover they have walked south all day and ended up in the same spot, are real; they were genuinely upset that they had walked all day for nothing.
- Heather Donahue and Michael C. Williams were unaware that Joshua Leonard was going to disappear near the end of the shoot (originally Williams' character was supposed to do that). The directors had left a note for Leonard instructing him to wait for the others to fall asleep, and then leave the tent. They had to wait for 45 minutes before calling him out, telling him "you're dead." Leonard was actually glad to leave because there was a Jane's Addiction concert he wanted to go to.
- When Heather screams "What the **** is that?!" she is seeing one of the movie crew standing on a hill dressed in white with a ski-mask on. Josh was holding the camera as ran behind her and didn't manage to catch the image on film.
- The directors initially had some sort of shocking ending in mind, but when they ran out of money, they settled for the one used in the final film where Heather finds Mike standing in the corner, and then gets hit by something off-camera. Although the ending frightened test audiences, they also found it confusing, so the studio gave the directors additional budget to shoot a few alternative endings. These included Mike being hanged from a noose, having him crucified to a large stick figure, and appearing with a bloodied chest. Stick figures themselves were experimented with as decorations in the final scene. In the end, the directors were actually pretty happy with their original ending, so they shot an additional interview scene where it is explained that Rustin Parr forced one kid to stand in the corner while he was killing another, as a means to give their conclusion some explanation. Fortunately, the studio allowed them to release the movie with their original ending.
- ↑ Taken from The Blair Witch Project IMDb trivia page
- The Blair Witch Project at the Internet Movie Database
- The Blair Witch Project at AllMovie
- The Blair Witch Project at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Blair Witch Project at Wikipedia
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