If either of those things are the case now, that person is going to be disappointed all over again.
By the time “The Blair Witch Project” made it to theaters in the summer of 1999, I had figured out it was only a movie. Yet that sense of realism remained, even with a second theatrical viewing. Like many, I had been caught up in the marketing campaign that told me three young documentary filmmakers had disappeared five years before in the Maryland woods.
And this was their footage.
As far as movie promotions go, the push behind “The Blair Witch Project” was an award winner. I can still remember seeing Heather Donahue’s hysterical face, less than half-revealed like a bad selfie, as she apologized to the families of her friends and told of her fear and her certainty she was going to die.
Count me in as one of those who bought into it at first. How could I not? I saw the first special features on the Independent Film Channel a year before the movie was released, and believed everything they showed me.
OK, maybe I didn’t believe in the witch, but I whole-heartedly believed something bad happened to those three young people. I wasn’t entirely wrong.
With the release of “Blair Witch” — just about everyone is ignoring the failed second part of the franchise — Donahue wrote recently about how she had to live like she was dead during the marketing phase for the original film. In many ways, she did die out there, or at the very least, leave a big part of her in the woods.
We lost something, too. We lost much of what it is like to be wowed by a film. In the case of my fellow theater-goers 17 years ago, some of us lost the ability to suspend disbelief because the payoff was such a letdown.
The new movie titled “Blair Witch” tried to get some of that back. The filmmakers succeeded in keeping the project’s true identity a secret, even with teaser trailer releases calling it “The Woods.” It wasn’t until two months before the release that the real title and a full trailer were given to the world.
The world, or at least some of us who still believe in movie magic, went nuts. In so many ways, the marketing machine did the opposite for this new film than for the first. There was no year-and-a-half of build-up, no fake documentaries about a fake documentary, no conspiracies theories to try and convince us that this was real.
Instead, we just get a new movie. It’s only a movie, and that’s not a bad thing.
T.J. Tranchell not only believed in the Blair Witch, but also believes there might be something to that chupacabra business. And maybe aliens. But not Bigfoot. Did you buy in to the Blair Witch phenomenon? Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org