For those of us that were just teenagers back in 1999, it’s hard to fathom that The Blair Witch Project is now 20 years old.
Whether you love or hate the film; you can’t ignore it’s significance to the horror genre.
The concept began in 1993 as directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez started to explore the idea of a found-footage horror film based around an urban legend/folk tale.
During a midnight screening at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, the film became a surprise hit and even in those internet infancy days, critics began talking about The Blair Witch Project as a game-changer for horror.
The late 90’s slasher revival was nearing its end with original Scream trilogy set to end a year later and it felt like the genre needed an injection of fresh impetus.
In the lead up to its release the SyFy channel release a mockumentary which some (like myself) believed; called the Curse of the Blair Witch which chronicled the history of the urban legend and the fictional town of Burkittsville.
On a budget of just $60,000 the film has grossed $248 million worldwide and spawned two sequels; the lambasted Book of Shadows (2000) and the ill-fated quasi-reboot Blair Witch in 2016 from Adam Wingard.
I had the pleasure of watching the film on the big screen over the weekend as Dudley Zoo put on an outdoor screening to usher in the Blair Witch’ 20th anniversary.
This was the first time I’d seen it back on the big screen since going to see it in an Odeon cinema was back in October 1999, with bad air conditioning and chewing gum covered floors.
What was fantastic was how the film has not lost its visceral edge and the fact the majority of the dialogue was adlibbed makes all the more of a triumph.
Even people who aren’t fans of the film can’t deny the ending of The Blair Witch Project is one of the most haunting in modern cinema history as Mike and Heather are attacked by an unseen person (or witch?) in the basement of a mysterious house in the woods.
It’s quite fitting that we are returning to Burkittsville this year with the release of a Blair Witch game; which will explore the legend like never before.
Are you a fan of the Blair Witch Project? Let us know in the comments.