The 1999 horror film pioneered the found footage genre with its faux-documentary style that followed three college students – Heather, Michael, and Joshua – in search of the Blair Witch in the Maryland woods.
The ending of the film was one of the most memorable in the horror movie genre, with Heather finding Michael in an abandoned house, facing the wall in the most ominous fashion.
The film ends with Heather finding Michael facing the wall before being attacked herself and dropping the camera [Artisan]
Something then attacks her, causing her to scream hysterically and drop her camera. The screen goes silent as the footage continues for another moment before fading to black.
When the film was screened to test audiences, co-director Dan Myrick said “people were overwhelmingly confused, however, when asked if they were scared, 19 out of 20 hands went up.”
The distributors, Artisan, were still worried so they got the filmmakers to shoot a few alternative endings that were more obviously gruesome.
The Blair Witch Project was a pioneer of the found footage horror genre [Artisan ]
This, according to Entertainment Weekly, included Michael hanging from a noose, crucified on a wooden stick man, and with a bloodied chest.
In the end, the film execs let them keep the ending, with one apparently telling co-director Eduardo Sanchez, “it’s going to cost us millions.”
It didn’t as The Blair Witch Project made about 4,000 times its budget and took away nearly $248.6 million worldwide.
Two sequels came after the 1999 film; the first, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, in 2000, and the second, Blair Witch in 2016.
The latter totally ignores the events of the critically-panned Book of Shadows, as it once again uses the found footage style to follow a group of college students investigating the disappearance of Heather – a sister of one member.
The critical consensus of Blair Witch on Rotten Tomatoes says the film “doles out a handful of effective scares, but aside from a few new twists, it mainly offers a belated rehash of the original – and far more memorable – first film.”
Read about the alternative ending to My Best Friend’s Wedding here