Fear of the unknown, the unseen – The Blair Witch Project

The living disappear leaving nothing but relics and whispers of the cursed.

I grew up playing in the woods of Western Pennsylvania. The trees extended miles into a forest left untouched by the subdivision’s manicured lawns. I spent hours sitting under trees, alone and listening to nature’s songs. With a vivid imagination that would amp up as the sun went down, dusk produced monsters unseen. I would run through the leaves and over crude trails before hopping the fence into the backyard, not looking back to see what might be on my heels.

It’s not always easy to understand the visions that the mind traps and then decides to call forth in the darkest hours of the night. Stories, myths, and frightening tales resurface at the most unexpected times. I’ve shared the impact The Shining had on me in childhood; the unformed fear within all of us. Another film had the same effect on me as an adult.

The Blair Witch Project debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999, grossing over $248 million dollars worldwide. An independent film, directors Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick directed a haunting movie inspired in part by the Salem witch hysteria of 1692 as well as The Crucible. Even though the film was not the first “found footage” style horror movie, it was the first marketed online. The crew shot the movie with handheld cameras, supposedly chronicling the disappearance of several college students from the Maryland wilderness as they searched for a witch rumored to live in the forest. Similar to the approach used in The Shining and The Omen, we never see the Blair Witch although the sound of clacking stone at night in the woods is enough to drive you mad. The gothic-style soundtrack featuring Type O Negative further solidifies the eerie nature of the movie. Some viewers and critics panned the film (and others made parodies of it) because the monster is never revealed. However, some things are scarier when left hidden in the dark.

I truly believe that there is nothing more frightening than the fear each of us can conjure in of our own heads. Pain and suffering, unique and unfiltered, can creep through the edges of our mind and threaten to paralyze. It’s for this reason that I love films like The Blair Witch Project. Sánchez and Myrick allowed me to create my own horror which is far worse than anything they could have put on the screen using prosthetics and an army of make-up artists.

I still love traditional horror flicks, especially ones involving zombies, but there isn’t a film maker alive that can rival the unknown evil that I try to keep contained within my own sanity.

Stop by the blog next Monday for part II of this post, including a visit from a very special guest.

Leave a Comment


  • Robyn Jones

    Amazing how our surroundings shape our imagination. You daydreamed in the woods. I spent my time in the water, wishing I could breathe at the bottom of the pool or swimming in the ocean. The movie The Abyss drew my wish into the fantasy/sci-fi realm.

  • James Thorn

    Those memories are so powerful, aren’t they? It is one aspect of our digital culture that saddens me because it pulls us out of those unstructured, private moments to see the next text or status update.

    Thanks for commenting, Robyn.

  • runningwithsharpobjects

    Very nice post! Can’t wait for part II. Love your writing style, as well. So descriptive.

  • James Thorn

    Thank you. I appreciate the read and comment. I’m really excited about part II of this post…Next Monday 😉

  • Lacey Reah

    I remember when that movie came out. It was the first of its kind and it scared the crap out of my husband, then boyfriend. 😉
    What amazes me about horror is how they can make something ordinary seem so horrific by changing the music. Something as mundane as sitting under a tree or walking into a room or taking a bath suddenly becomes scary and you know something bad is about to happen.

  • James Thorn

    No doubt. The ordinary can be made into something terribly frightening. Thanks for the comment Lacey.

    What other horror movies have this effect on you folks?

  • Shadow Girl

    I love BWP. It still manages to scare me, even after watching it a hundred times! The woods, after dark, are as good as haunted.
    One of the movies that BWP tried to emulate is THE LAST BROADCAST. Instead of a witch, TLB was about a local cable access show that did a show called FACT OR FICTION. Their next big show was going to be filmed in The Pine Barrens, on the hunt for the Jersey Devil. “Days later, their footage was found…”, Haha… Kidding. Days later, only one member of the group emerges from the woods – and he’s now the prime suspect in the disappearance of the others.
    It was a pretty bad movie. Being the closet nerd that I am, my days spent on ICQ helped me understand some of the terminology used in TLB. Today, I’m not sure knowing those things was even important. I’ve wanted to watch TLB recently, to give it a better chance, but I can’t find it anywhere.
    I really want to see it again now, after telling you about it!
    I grabbed the IMDB page to show you the movie –

    There are many more “found footage” movies (Cloverfield, REC, The Last Horror Movie…) but, Blair Witch was my favorite.

  • James Thorn

    I used to live in Jersey! I’ve got to find that movie. Thanks Shadow Girl 😉

  • Your email address will not be published.