This summer will mark 18 years since The Blair Witch Project took the box office by storm, becoming one of the first viral sensations at the cinema. Some audiences weren’t sure whether the movie they were watching was real or not thanks to a clever marketing campaign creating a fake ghost story online (when the internet wasn’t anywhere near as widely used or quite as untrustworthy) about a witch in Burkittsville, Maryland. The movie scared the hell out of people, especially the troubling ending. But it turns out that ending was almost drastically different and potentially not as frightening.
Find out about The Blair Witch Project alternate endings below.
Entertainment Weekly recently talked with Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez about the ending of the movie, which was always something they struggled with. Myrick explains:
“We didn't want to lead the audience on this entire build-up and then just cut to black; there needed to be some kind of what-the-f–k moment at the end, but at the same time we didn't want to see a person in a bad witch costume come out and grab them.”
Sanchez adds that their extremely low budget made it difficult to create a satisfying payoff at the end, and that’s why it ends in a way that is somewhat anti-climactic, but no less scary:
“We didn't have any money, so we couldn't do any special effects so we had to figure out how to end it without ruining the rest of the film. We came up with the idea three days before we shot it. We thought it was great — kind of unexplained, but it gave you the idea that something supernatural was happening.”
The ending of the movie shows Mike (Michael Williams) standing in the corner (seen above), a reference to a story they’d heard from a resident they interviewed while shooting their documentary. Suddenly Heather (Heather Donahue), who was holding the camera through which we see Mike in the corner, screams crazily before being hit in the head, knocking the camera down and giving the movie quite the grim ending.
It turns out that audiences were confused by that ending, but they weren’t any less scared. Myrick says, “When asked if they were scared, 19 out of 20 hands went up.” Even so, Artisan Entertainment was a little worried about audience confusion, and they wanted Myrick and Sanchez to shoot something more definitive.
Since the directing duo didn’t have the money to shoot the endings they initially thought of, Artisan gave them they money they needed to shoot them. All the endings gave Mike a much more horrible ending including having him hanging from a noose, crucifying him on one of the film’s signature stick men, and just having a bloodied chest. In addition to the endings, they shot one more thing.
Sanchez and Myrick were still hopeful to keep their original ending, because, “What makes us fearful is something that's out of the ordinary, unexplained. The first ending kept the audience off balance; it challenged our real-world conventions, and that's what really made it scary,” said Myrick. So that’s where they shot the pick-up scene where one of their interview subjects tells the story of the killer Rustin Parr, who made kids stand in the corner while he killed his other victims, giving the ending clearer significance.
Even though studio executives were hesitant, they let the duo keep their original ending, and the rest is history.
The post ‘The Blair Witch Project’ Almost Had a More Gruesome Ending appeared first on /Film.