If the Blair Witch Project didn’t mark the birth of internet viral marketing, it sure as hell perfected it. For months prior to the movie’s release, people were talking about the found footage of “those Blair Witch kids that got lost in the woods.” People argued whether or not the three kids actually disappeared or not, and people argued whether or not there even was a legend of the Blair Witch. Prior to the film’s release, a fake documentary titled The Curse of the Blair Witch ran on Sci-Fi which added fuel to the flames of the whole thing being real.
On opening night, Susan and I, along with our friends Jeff and Heather and Alan and Renee went to see the movie. The theater was so packed that we couldn’t get six seats together, and in fact the only seats we *did* manage to find were on the very outside of the front row. Not only did I have a headache from all the shaky-cam footage, but my neck was sore from craning it into a position to be able to see the screen.
Say what you want to about the movie now, but in a dark theater that film brought out every fear I’ve ever had about being lost in the woods, about being chased by something I couldn’t see, and about being somewhere I shouldn’t be. Sometimes when I go outside at night I’ll look over my shoulder just to make sure “something” isn’t there behind me. This movie was like 90 minutes of that. It didn’t quite perfect the tension roller coaster of days vs. nights (I still give that award to Paranormal Activity), but it was damn close. For me, the Blair Witch was to camping in the woods what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean.
And then, the end — sudden, shocking, and violent. Just like that, it was over. People shuffled outside the theater and stood around, talking to one another. “Did you see that?” “What just happened?” “Was that real?” We must have stood outside the theater for half an hour, talking among ourselves and with strangers. It was one of the oddest social events I’ve ever been a part of.
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