So, ten years huh… Crazy. What are my memories of The Blair Witch Project? Well, a crap-ton to be honest. It came out the same week I started a new job (the one I’m still at… GADS!), so that is why the release of The Blair Witch Project is sort of frozen in time for me.
I first remember hearing about it from a co-worker when I was still working at a music store called Sunrise Records. His description was pretty vague, so when I got home that night I looked up the website he gave me. I was immediately transfixed by the mythology and the fact that it wasn’t clear whether this story was actually true or not. Remember, it was 1999 and the Internet had not evolved to the everything-about-anything Googleplex that it is now. In fact, I still maintain that The Blair Witch Project was actually the first film to actually harness the power of the Internet as a marketing tool.
Speaking of the Internet, here is some recent video (0-3:35) of Eduardo Sánchez talking about The Blair Witch Project.
I’d also like to say that it was The Blair Witch Project (as well as a few other films that came out that year, like The Matrix) that really got me back into film. Since I’d been working at Sunrise - and thus Ticketmaster - for a few years my focus had shifted to music. Once I’d left that job, I naturally gravitated back to film and the Blair Witch was as good a catalyst as any.
On Friday, June 30th 1999, I sped off from work to see it at my local multiplex. I sat there that whole ninety minutes hypnotized. I was pretty affected by it, but it wasn’t until I starting talking to my friends over that weekend that I started to grasp the power of the film. I had a friend who went with his girlfriend and they almost didn’t make it through it. The way he described it to me was that every time dusk came in the movie, they were just filled with this overbearing sense of dread as the last night approached, they weren’t sure how much more they were going to be able to take. It was the ending that really fucked them up though. And rightly so, as that final shot of – even if it was borrowed from earlier films like Cannibal Holocaust and Man Bites Dog – is still one of the most chilling sequences I think I’ve seen in my life. I had another friend who was so scarred, he swore off horror films all together. I think it actually broke him to an extent. This remained the case for awhile because I remember hosting a Halloween party some four years later and when he arrived and saw the stick men lining my front hall – he almost did a one-eighty out the door. Needless to say, he liked the dressed-up dummy I stuck in the corner of the living room (which I SO WISH I could find the pictures of) even less. He’s okay now though, as I know he's watched The Descent without soiling himself. Sometimes you just turn a corner you know? Then, there were the people that thought that the whole thing was real and couldn’t be convinced otherwise. I mean, the website and film were very well executed, but come on, the actors were appearing on talk shows for Christ’s sake!
In the grand scheme of things, The Blair Witch Project and its effect on people seems to be hit and miss. There were tons of people who got absolutely nothing out of it, but to be honest I am glad I was not among them. Memories Of Blair continues tomorrow when I reach out to the online community to share their experiences from that fateful summer.