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The Blair Witch Project (1999) | History of Horror

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The Blair Witch Project (1999) | History of Horror

Chelsea Blanton

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Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. A year later, their footage was found.”

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Have you seen these three college students? Well, maybe you haven’t seen them, but have you seen their movie? The found footage film, The Blair Witch Project (1999), was a cultural

phenomenon. Although it is not technically the first found footage film (that title goes to the 1980’s film Cannibal Holocaust), it is the first found footage to captivate and shake its audience. The gritty film technique allows for The Blair Witch Project to present itself as a true documentary. In fact, the actor’s IMDB pages listed them as “missing and presumed dead”. Directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, hailing from Florida’s own UCF, were one of the first to utilize the internet to promote a film.

Three students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams) travel to the small town of Burkittsville, Maryland to collect documentary footage about the legend of the Blair Witch, who haunts the woods and allegedly killed children many years ago. They interview several residents to gather information about the myth. As they go deeper in the forest strange things start to happen until they finally meet the Blair Witch face to face…. or not. Their footage is found a year later and its ending is one you will never forget.

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Speaking of strange things, the students encounter disturbing stick figures hanging from the trees, a blue-green slime on their equipment, and disorientation after losing their map. Despite all the strangeness there is barely any blood or gore in the film, the audience is left to imagine what could happen when you get lost in the woods with an ominous urban legend. The Blair Witch Project is a brilliant reminder that sometimes what scares us the most is what we can’t see.

Listed among the top 5 most profitable horror movies of all time, The Blair Witch Project raked in a cool $248 million with only a $60,000 budget. Starting the permeable trend of found footage films, we would never have Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity or REC without The Blair Witch Project.


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