I have fond memories of catching “The Blair Witch Project” when it began its theatrical run in 1999. Yeah, it spooked me a bit, even though I caught the movie in the middle of the afternoon, at a critics’ screening. I remember being happy to get out of the dark theater and step into the bright Florida sunshine. I benefited from seeing “Blair Witch” early, before it exploded, the hype machine went into overdrive, and the naysaying kicked in.
Yes, the film, shot in video on handheld, sometimes herky-jerky cameras, is built on a simple, straightforward premise — three twentysomething student filmmakers on a quest for a mythic evil character get lost in the woods, and their fear and paranoia, captured in occasionally extreme close-ups, keeps building until the creepy conclusion. The dialogue was largely improvised.
The $60k flick, one of the most successful independent films of all time, made an astounding $250 million at the worldwide box office, and practically created the “found-footage” horror subgenre (and was followed by two awful sequels).
Despite its enormous success, some folks really disliked “Blair Witch.” At the very least, the film’s producers deserve credit for a brilliant marketing scheme, built around something of a hoax: We’re told that what we’re seeing on screen is exactly what the “filmmakers” experienced, and that the video was found inside a camera after the three had, variously, been found dead or simply vanished. The actual filmmakers also released a Sci-Fi Channel “documentary” — made from whole cloth — on Blair Witch history and lore.
Daniel Myrick, who wrote, directed and edited “Blair Witch” with Eduardo Sanchez, will be on hand for a “Blair Witch” screening at Tampa Theatre on Friday, Aug. 25 at 10:30 pm. Afterwards, he’ll do an audience Q&A.
Myrick, who recently signed a three-picture deal with the new filmmaking arm of the site iHorror, is expected to talk about his next film, “Skyman.” The docu-drama, produced by Joe Restaino and the iHorror team, will be partly filmed in Tampa, and is slated for release next year.