• Publication date: October 11, 2010

The Blair Witch Project The Blair Witch Project

In a departure from contemporary horror flicks, The Blair Witch Project replaces gratuitous ...

In a departure from contemporary horror flicks, The Blair Witch Project replaces gratuitous gore with constant psychological suspense, a quality that made pictures such as The Omen, The Shining, and Psycho classics in the genre. Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams are aspiring filmmakers fascinated by an allegedly haunted forest located in Burkittsville, Maryland. An eighteenth-century legend reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials claims that Elly Kedward was falsely accused of black magic, and subsequently banished from Burkittsville (then known as Blair) by its locals. Kedward fled on foot deep into the woods, freezing in the winter cold and destined to die. The townspeople vowed never to mention her name again, certain that doing so would invoke a curse upon them all. As years pass numerous children disappear from Blair, and at one point a group of 11 Burkittsville residents witness a pale hand pull a young girl deep into a nearby stream. In another instance an eight-year-old girl vanishes; a search team attempts to locate her, but is inescapably disemboweled and killed. The most recent abductions occurred in 1941, when a hermit who lived in the forest slaughtered seven children. Afterward he claimed that an elderly female ghost persuaded him to commit the killings. Naturally authorities were not convinced, deemed him psychotic, and arranged his execution. Is the Blair Witch merely a folk tale, with a multigenerational chain of narrators perfecting its degree of horror with each passing? Heather and her crew are genuinely unsure, but nevertheless fascinated by the story. Together they travel to Burkittsville armed with cameras, film, and camping equipment to spend a week in its supposedly deadly forest. The footage will be edited and condensed into a feature-length documentary, but will Heather, Joshua, and Michael live long enough to view it themselves? With a gross revenue of $248 million, one might expect that The Blair Witch Project was a multimillion dollar investment for its creators. Not so. Directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez produced the picture with a mere $22 thousand using consumer grade handheld camcorders. Critical response to the film was highly positive and it was nominated for an MTV Movie Award.