It’s Been 20 Years Since ‘The Blair Witch Project’ First Scared Us Silly

Photo: Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

The Blair Witch Project was not a great movie but it was a revolutionary one. It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since indie filmmakers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez released their $60,000 supernatural horror film which would go on to make nearly $250 million at the box office.

The Blair Witch Project phenomenon created the “found footage” genre, spawning hundreds of would-be imitators but few duplicators. A lot of The Blair Witch Project‘s success was in its ingenious marketing that treated the film as if it were a documentary.

Who could forget that opening title card?

In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary…A year later their footage was found.

It was the dawn of the digital age, but you could still find nothing about the 1999 film online, save for legit-looking “Missing Persons” posters. The film’s grainy, hand-held style and the improvisational plot only added to the “Is it real or not?” vibe.

Although The Blair Witch Project became a middling franchise with two sequels (Book of Shadows in 2000 and Blair Witch in 2016), novels, video games, and comic books, the perfect storm had passed. Once we knew that it wasn’t real, we began to judge it as a real movie. The shaky camera made us dizzy, the acting was bad, and the plot was meandering.

Still, that close-up of Heather Donahue’s frightened eyes will be forever seared in our minds. Let’s take a look back at The Blair Witch Project‘s 20th anniversary with a series of GIFs.

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