It may be Maryland's most famous horror movie, but do you know the facts about "The Blair Witch Project"? Here are some facts courtesy of IMDb about the 1999 flick to get you ready for Halloween in Maryland--now stay out of the woods!
1. The three teenagers are alive and well...
The premise of the movie--and of the movie's marketing--is that what you're watching is the edited footage that three real film students took while in the woods while making a documentary about a local witch legend. Those young people (Josh, Michael and Heather) disappear after a harrowing week spent lost, never to be seen again.
The marketing was a huge success. Maybe too huge of a success. Fifteen years later, people still think that the movie is real, even though Joshua Leonard, Heather Donahue and Michael C. Williams are all alive and are still acting! (Of course, those of you who read Route One's Monsters, Myths and Legends article knew this already!) The film was so convincing and so creepy that Heather's mother received sympathy cards from people who thought her daughter was missing.
Photo via blairwitch.com
2. ...but they were truly convinced something scary was going on in those woods!
The mythology of the film--the witch, the man who kidnapped kids, all of the stuff that supposedly happened in the woods outside of Burkittsville--was completely invented by the filmmakers. But the three lead actors didn't know that! They knew, of course, that they were making a movie about a witch where they were pretending to be trapped in the woods, but they were led to believe that the witch was a real historical figure. To make it even more realistic, the filmmakers planted hidden actors in town, who were interviewed by Heather at the beginning of the film. The hidden actors knew there wasn't really a witch, but Heather and two boys didn't.
And remember the terrifying scene when the actors are sleeping, only to be woken by something shaking the tent? As you might have guessed, it was the film crew, but the actors had no idea that was going to happen or what was even going on. Tack on the fact they think an actual witch haunts the woods, and they were probably ready to cry. That's one way to get genuine reactions, right?
3. Co-Director Eduardo Sanchez has continued making creepy movies in Maryland
Though it's not as scary or well-known as "The Blair Witch Project", his 2011 film "Lovely Molly" is also a decently creepy possession/demon film, and was filmed in my home turf of Washington County (fellow Hagerstown residents will recognize the mall where the main character works as the Valley Mall). Hey, if you have a home state as full of awesome spooky stuff as ours, why not keep making movies there?
4. It broke ground for found-footage movies.
If you watch "The Blair Witch Project" in 2014, it might not seem incredibly original, but it was the movie that paved the way for popular found-footage horror films like "Cloverfield", "Paranormal Activity" and "Quarantine". By now, so many scary movies use the tactic that it seems tired out now. But in 1999, that wasn't the case--it's part of the reason that so many people believe it's real, when they know that the other movies aren't (I'm pretty sure that New York didn't get destroyed by a monster).
Found-footage filmmaking is a money saver, and "The Blair Witch Project" was no exception. Made for around $60,000, it grossed $248,639,099. According to IMDb, the filmmakers cut down on costs even further by returning a camera they used to Circuit City (oh, the nineties) and getting a refund.
Photo via clearancebinreview
5. It's still a genuinely scary movie!
Despite the time that has passed, the debunking of the legends, the copycats and imitators...this is still an awesomely creepy film. When Bravo complied their list of 100 Scariest Movie Moments, "The Blair Witch Project" made #30, beating out other classics like "The Sixth Sense" and "Nosferatu".
You never see any witches, monsters or murderers in this entire movie. You spent the entire movie waiting to see something that never appears, and the filmmakers know that nothing they could show you will ever be as scary as the anxiety of not knowing what's out there. The three terrified actors are being stalked, trapped in a forest they can never leave. Their reactions are unscripted and raw; they're the way you and your friends might react in the same situation.
Still, there aren't really any witches out in the woods...so go ahead and give "The Blair Witch Project" another watch this Halloween!
This post was written by Route One Apparel blogger, Eva Niessner.