In 1994 three film students, Heather (Heather Donahue), Mike (Michael C. Williams) and Joshua (Joshua Leonard) decide to do a documentary about the local legend of the Blair Witch. The Blair Witch was a woman named Elly Kedward who lived in the Black Hills Forest, in the long-deserted town of Blair, near Burkittsville, Maryland. Reportedly, Elly, an accused witch, kidnapped and killed children in the late 1700’s.
The students start off by interviewing some of the residents in Burkittsville. One of the residents tells the kids about Rustin Parr, a hermit who, during the 40’s, kidnapped seven children and murdered them in his basement. He abducted the kids in pairs. He would put one kid in the corner facing the wall while he was killing the other one. Another resident, Mary Brown (Patricia DeCou) who said she saw a woman covered in fur and wearing a gray shawl. Once they get to the woods, they meet two men fishing (Ed Swanson and Bob Griffin) who tell of a child, Robin Weaver, who went missing in the 1800’s for three days. When the child finally showed up, she talked about seeing a woman in the woods whose feet did not touch the ground.
Heather, Mike and Joshua have a map of the area and a compass to find their way around the forest. They manage to find a local attraction known as Coffin Rock where five men were tortured and killed. The men who found the bodies went to fetch the sheriff. When they returned, the bodies were gone. The kids begin hiking further into the woods looking for an old graveyard. They find where some rock cairns have been placed. In another area of the woods, they find stick figures hanging from the trees.
During the night the kids hear noises in the woods, footsteps and sticks breaking. They lose the map and get hopelessly lost. Tempers flare and the students begin to argue with each other and blame each other for their predicament. Then Joshua disappears. Later Heather finds a piece of Joshua’s shirt. Wrapped inside it are blood, teeth and hair. Heather and Mike know they are not alone in the woods.
“The Blair Witch Project” was released in 1999 and was directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. The film was written by Myrick and Sanchez, with a little help from Heather Donahue. It is a supernatural horror mockumentary film done in the lost footage style. The film spawned several books, comics, television specials, video games and sequels.
The legend of Blair Witch was made up by Sanchez and Myrick. This is one of the earlier lost footage films made. Many who watched the film believed the legend really existed. Maryland was inundated with tourists looking for the witch. The crew did things to exact emotional stress from the actors in order to garner the responses the filmmakers wanted on film.
The only blood in the movie is the little bit that Heather finds wrapped up in Joshua’s shirt. Other than that, there is no carnage or gore and no on-screen deaths. There isn’t even a real witch to look at. Everything in the film is relayed as a scary story, similar to those told around a campfire. This can make for a very boring film except that in this case, it works.
The film cost an estimated 60 thousand dollars to make. It grossed over 248 million worldwide. The house used as the Rustin Parr house was actually the Griggs House. The house was located in Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland. The house was eventually torn down due to it being overrun by fans of the film.