The Blair Witch Project redefined horror by launching the found-footage craze in 1999, and also inspired legions of indie upcoming filmmakers to pick up cameras themselves. It was unlike anything produced in Hollywood at the time, yet it was considered more terrifying than just about anything else released in the 1990s. Part of the film’s impact came from the shocking, yet somewhat opaque ending that saw Mike (Williams) standing with his back against the wall as Heather’s (Donahue)camera dropped and faded to black.
Blair Witch co-directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the enduring impact of their debut film. One of the most interesting reveals was that the movie almost had a much different ending, one that would have seen Josh (Leonard) crucified on a huge version of one of the Blair Witch’s signature effigies (image below).
Myrick and Sánchez actually did a weekend of reshoots.
When they took footage back to executives, the directors expressed their preference for the original ending. “What makes us fearful is something that’s out of the ordinary, unexplained,” says Myrick. “The first ending kept the audience off balance; it challenged our real world conventions and that’s what really made it scary.”
Thankfully, the producers agreed and allowed the filmmakers to keep the original ending. There was, however, one part of the reshoot that made it into the final product:
“There was one additional pick up,” says Sanchez. “We shot an interview with a guy where he explains a little bit of the mythology of the killer Rustin Parr; how he would make one kid stand in the corner while he killed the others. We felt that if we stuck it in early in the movie there was going to be some audience members that would connect it to the ending.”
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What do you think of the darker Blair Witch Project ending? Do you think it would have been better or worse than the original? Let’s discuss in the Comments section. And if it’s been a while, reacquaint yourself with The Blair Witch Project by revisiting the trailer and synopsis below.
Official Synopsis: Found video footage tells the tale of three film students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams) who’ve traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a legendary local murderer. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale’s veracity. But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.