The Blair Witch Project was the first film of its kind. We followed three friends, Heather, Josh, and Mike, and their efforts to track down the mythical sorceress known as the Blair Witch. We were taken to the town of Burkittsville – the location the witch is believed to reside. The trio convinced audiences the witch was real and the shocking ending had people believing that serious harm came to them. They filmed the whole movie on handheld cameras, making it look as though it was a home movie. The genre is now known as found footage.
How did the myth begin?
Several children in North Central Maryland accuse a woman, Elly Kedward, of trying to draw blood from them after she lured them into her home. Kedward was accused and found guilty of witchcraft and was duly banished from the village. That happened in February 1785, by November 1785 all of Kedward’s accusers had disappeared along with several children. In 1809 The Blair Witch Cult was published, it was considered fiction but tells the tale of an entire town cursed by a witch that was outcast.
The plot thickens
In 1825 multiple eyewitnesses witnessed ten-year-old Eileen Treacle pulled into Tappy East Creek by a pale woman’s hand. The body was never found, and for nearly two weeks the creek is clogged with bundles of sticks. Sixty years later eight-year-old Robin Weaver is reported missing, he turns up days later, but one of the search parties sent out to find him did not. Their bodies were found weeks later tied together by the arms and legs at Coffin Creek.
Hermit doing the witch’s work
In 1941 a hermit rocked up to a market and exclaimed that his work was done. The police hiked for several hours through the woods and found the bodies of missing children in the basement. Seven in total have been butchered and each one in a ritualistic manner. The man claims he did it for the pale ghost who lived in a cabin near his.
The Blair Witch events
Now we move to the time the filming was done and in 1994 three college students begin interviewing residents of Burkittsville regarding the legend of the Blair Witch. One interviewee, Mary Brown, claims to have seen the witch down at Tappy Creek, she said the witch was in the form of a half beast, half human. Later they interview a couple of fishermen, and they give the students directions to Coffin Rock. The students head to Coffin Rock and are never seen again.
Days after the students head off for Coffin Rock the police find their car and begin a search for them. Police call off the search after ten days and over 33,000 man hours, there was no trace of the students. Heather’s mother begins her own search of the area, convinced she can find the students.
Students from Maryland University eventually discovered a bag under a 100-year-old cabin, the bag contained several tapes and a camera, as well as Heather’s journal. The tapes were assessed and dismissed as a hoax by the police department. The victim’s families appealed this ruling, and the footage was released in 1996. Haxan Films were given the footage, which lasts days, and are tasked with piecing together the events that led to the student’s disappearance.
This film came out and had people freaking out, they thought it was legit and feared this witch really was out there slaughtering people. The filmmaker’s attention to detail and building of the backstory really sold the movie to those that viewed it, opening up divides in opinion amongst people. Half of those that watched it claimed it was a hoax and the other half believed it happened.
We now know it was indeed a hoax, but thanks to being the first of its kind it fooled many people and got them heading to the cinema several times to try and piece together the mystery for themselves.