“The Blair Witch Project” was released 20 years ago this year.
Back in 2013 I wrote an article titled “How The Blair Witch Project Saved My Love For Horror” (which you can read HERE if you want to), six years later and I still stand by that.
For some of you out there it might be hard to fathom but there was once a time before “The Blair Witch Project” where ‘found footage’ wasn’t really a big thing and it had a such a unique marketing campaign that I’m more than positive we’ll never see the likes of ever again.
You can easily see the impact this film had on not just the Horror genre but on film in general. You can mark a point before “The Blair Witch Project” and after “The Blair Witch Project”, it almost instantly became a part of pop culture and it hasn’t gone away ever since and is instantly noticeable.
The film became so big and ingrained into pop culture that people who haven’t even seen the film can understand the references that get made in other films and TV shows, even the Blair Witch symbol has become infamous and instantly recognisable. Not bad for a low budget Horror eh.
I can still vividly remember seeing the poster for this film, I’d never seen anything like it before and it was one of the first and only times that a marketing campaign has had me wondering if it really was a true story or not. Like I said earlier it was an extremely clever marketing campaign.
If you weren’t there to experience all that then it’s very hard to explain it to you, you have to remember that this was the early days of the internet, mobile phones were in their infancy, believe it or not there was no such thing as social media. I know for some of you that will be hard to wrap your head around.
The world as we knew it was changing and we all knew it but society was also extremely gullible, especially when it came to what was said on the web. So when a website was set up stating that three people had gone into the woods and had never returned, we all bought it hook, line and sinker.
Even more so when word came out that video tapes had been found and we were going to be given the honour of watching these tapes in the luxury of a cinema and we could pay for tat privilege. Yeah I know, it all sounds dumb now but you weren’t there it’s hard to understand.
Then came the mythology itself, hearing stories of the Witch herself and Rustin Parr, stories we’d never heard before and accepted on face value. You have to remember this was the days of internet infancy, there was no discounting everything you were being told.
The other thing that sucked you in was the style of the movie, this wasn’t a flashy millions of dollar budget film, this was fuzzy cameras, shaky scenes and bad sound. All of it added to the realism of the story, even the motion sickness people reportedly had due to the handheld movements.
The film truly was a phenomenon when it was released, you couldn’t go anywhere without people talking about it, one of the big questions being “Do you think it’s true or not?”. Yes we really did all for it and I don’t care what anyone says, at the time it truly was believable.
“The Blair Witch Project” preyed on your imagination, because you were never really shown anything, just darkness and sounds, you were left to wonder what was happening and in that respect it really did work. It’s actually something that I think modern films can learn a thing or two from.
I’d do anything to have that belief again, it was because of this film that I started to watch Horror films again and I haven’t stopped since. I do miss those days of the unknown and the vulnerability of not knowing. I think it’s something a lot of Horror fans miss, those early days before desensitization kicked in.
So many movies owe their existence to this feature, sure it has lost its fear factor over the years but for those of us who lived through its release we will forever remember the phenomenon of “The Blair Witch Project” and the impact it had on us all. I myself owe a great debt to this film and I still watch it, it brings back some amazing memories for me.