Horror cinema was taken to a whole new sphere in 1999 when The Blair Witch Project came out of nowhere and singlehandedly ushered in the ‘found footage’ sub-genre.
Blair Witch is a film which helped to change film marketing forever. It showed Hollywood that the internet was an important way to hype films, without having to spend $100 million. Audiences believed the footage contained within Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s low budget fright pic was real and the internet marketing campaign for the movie played this aspect up, propelling the film to almost $250 million at the worldwide box office – not bad for a film which cost just $60,000!
Blair Witch‘s documentary style (later re-dubbed “shaky cam” and ‘found footage’) has been copied ever since and films such as Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and a million other interchangeable low budget shockers owe it a huge debt.
A sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 fizzled the following year. The budget of that film was increased to $15 million and while it grossed $47 million globally, bad reviews and audience feedback meant the franchise lay dormant until director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett ventured back into the woods with Blair Witch in 2016. That film was a moderate success, banking $45 million worldwide from a $5 million budget.
No sequel or remake will ever match the power of what The Blair Witch Project managed to do back in 1999. In came out of nowhere to shock and stun audiences across the globe. It changed how movies were made and marketed and opened up a whole new realm for budding filmmakers. Now all you needed was a digital camera and a website to realise your dreams. Not a bad legacy for a little movie which nobody saw coming.