The Blair Witch Project 1999 vs. 2016
The Blair Witch Project first made its big screen debut in July of 1999. This movie ended
up becoming an instant sensation. It gave a groundbreaking take on horror movies and had done something that none of its predecessors ever did, it used documentary footage to take the movie watcher inside the story. This later created a whole new genres of horror films.
The original Blair Witch Project’s plot was about three college age film students, Heather, Michael, and Josh, that travel to Maryland to make a student film documentary about a local urban legend, The Blair Witch. This urban legend was said to be responsible for several children vanishing during the 1940’s after journeying too deep into the haunted woods. These woods were still being avoided by most people and the students thought it would make a great film project. The three students begin their journey by interviewing locals on the urban legend.
Many of the locals add to the suspense of the film by sharing stories of their own encounters with the witch. After the interviews were complete, the students then traveled to the Black Hills forest near Burkittsville, Maryland. Armed with only their video cameras and some basic camping equipment the three venture into the creepy woods and record all of their journey.
First, upon entering the woods the three find little piles of stones that appear to be
arranged by someone or something. They remembered some of the towns people talking about these stone piles so it definitely makes them curious and they venture deeper into the woods. Eventually they find themselves lost and they all begin to freak out, yelling at each other when they realize that they have lost their map. After the first night lost in the woods, the three wake up to find the same piles of stones they saw when they first entered the woods except these piles were outside their tent. This is when the panic really sets in. They spend several days and nights wandering around the woods with little food and water. Each night something happens that was scarier than the night before. One day they come across a clearing in the woods where sticks have been arranged in the trees and on the ground to form symbols. The three realize they need to get out of the woods as soon as possible. That night Josh disappears. While searching for Josh, Heather and Mike find a dilapidated house and decide to go in. On the walls they notice child size handprints and the same stick symbols they had previously seen in the woods. They also hear what sounds like Josh yelling for them. Mike begins running up the stairs searching for Josh when he realizes the voice is coming from the basement. He rushes down the stairs and becomes quiet as the camera Mike had been carrying the whole time crashes to the floor. Heather is running around the house screaming, now searching for both Mike and Josh. She enters the basement and sees Mike standing in the corner of the room faced against a wall. Suddenly Heather’s camera is knocked from her hands and she too becomes silent, the film then runs for a few seconds and cuts out. The audience is left only to imagine what happens next. Later the footage is recovered and pieced into the three students journey.
This whole story line concept was a new approach to horror films. There was no actual
man you as the audience could see chasing people around, the terror was left entirely for your imagination. Not only was this film a game changer for horror films but it only had a budget of $60,000, and it ended up grossing over $248 million dollars worldwide. It changed the way even producers looked at films, maybe bigger and expensive wasn't always better.
In October of 2016 a new Blair Witch Project was released. Once again the producers
used documentary style to film the movie. This time around Heather’s brother, James is the focus of the film. He stumbles upon a YouTube video, that someone had posted as lost footage of his sisters previous expedition into the haunted woods . James immediately contacts the poster of the video, Liam and he confirms that he came across the old footage in the Black Hills forest. James has hope that he may be able to finally solve the mystery of his missing sister and her friends. Heather’s brother and a few of his friends gather some high tech camera equipment and decide to go into the haunted woods near Burkittsville, Maryland to search for Heather. The nice thing about the film is it shows the audience the massive search that took place for the three lost students and confirms they had never been found. Similar to the first film, James and his friends journey into the woods. After spending their first night in the woods they wake up to the same piles of stones as Heather and her friends previously did in the first Blair Witch. A similar and somewhat predictable journey follows next. James and his friends get lost in the woods and spend several nights as one after the other of them vanishes. Each night is one terror after another and they wake up to the same stick figures as Heather and her friends had previously. Finally the remaining two stumble upon the same dilapidated house as Heather. They go in searching for Heather and later for each other. This installment of the Blair Witch focuses more on what happens in the house then what leads up to finding the house. This is when the film gets scary and really grabs the audience. James and his friend get separated and later end up back together in the corner of a dark room. You can see glimpses of the witch in the background and James tells his friend, do not turn around and look at the witch, because that's when she takes you. Seconds later James turns around and is yanked away by the witch. His friend tries not to look but ultimately can’t help herself and she too is dragged off by the witch. Just as in the first film the camera she was holding crashes to the floor and the film goes black.
Both of the Blair Witch films were uniquely filmed in a way to terrify the audience
without really knowing what happens. In my opinion, the first Blair Witch was scarier just because the audience didn't know what to expect next. The second Blair Witch follows such a similar format that the storyline is almost predictable. The second installment of the Blair Witch’s performance at the box office to date has been significantly less than its predecessor, grossing just over $20 million dollars. The biggest difference between the two films is the budget. The first Blair Witch cost just over $60,000 to make but the second Blair Witch cost over $5 million dollars. The authenticity of the first film is what makes it so unique, the audience feels like they are watching and actual documentary hence the inexpensive budget. However the second film looks produced even though it follows the documentary format. All in all, if you like scary movies and enjoyed the first Blair Witch, the second is a must watch even if you wait until it comes out on DVD.