In mid-1999 I was a recent high school graduate living up my last summer before college. One of the biggest things for me was to see The Blair Witch Project before college started. This film that was taking the Internet by storm enthralled me, along with millions of others.
As the summer drew on, I became obsessed with sitting on the website, clicking links, finding hidden pages with more information. I saw the film on opening day, and immediately it became one of my favorite films. Throughout the years I fell more and more in love with the film, traveling to the locations multiple times a year with other fans to walk the steps that Heather, Mike and Josh took back in 1997.
One thing about being a fan of a certain film or franchise is that you always want more. For the most part, fans are satisfied with the 2 or 3 films they get for a certain franchise and hold them near and dear to their hearts. But there is always that little voice in the back of their heads going “just one more movie” or “I wish they’d make a sequel someday.” Years pass, sometimes decades, and nothing; then one day an announcement is made that a beloved character or franchise is returning to the silver screen. There is much celebration, excitement, questions, and theories by fans that have waited patiently.
As the time gets closer to the release of the new film, many fans start to not only sprout theories as to what the plot will contain but also wonder if there will be any callbacks to previous films or how this new film connects with the existing continuity. Since the end of the last decade, there has been a resurgence in film franchises from the 80s, 90s and 00s getting the long-awaited sequel. The trend has been picked up where the franchise left off, recognizing that the same amount of time has passed in movie time as in real life.
Related Story: Making The Blair Witch Project
One of the first examples of giving a nod to the franchise’s previous adventures is in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. At the beginning of the film, we see a quick glimpse of the Arc of the Covenant as the camera pans by while Indiana Jones is making his daring escape. Blair Witch (review) is not excluded from being full of things that fans of the original film will most definitely want to see.
Let’s list the nods and Easter eggs hidden within Blair Witch:
1) The Burkittsville town sign
The sign that was stolen repeatedly in the summer of ’99 makes a reappearance. Since the town changed the look of the sign in the early 2000s, they haven’t had the same problem. This is a nice callback to an iconic scene from the first film.
2) Staying in a motel the night before heading out into the woods
Just like the original, the characters rest their heads in a small town motel before roughing it in the woods. The room is almost an exact replica of the one used in 1999.
3) Johnnie Walker Red Label
In the first film, Heather reluctantly takes a swig of Johnnie Walker Red after proclaiming she “fucking hates scotch.” In the new film, we see a much larger bottle being prominently placed on the nightstand.
4) Walking away from the cars
As in the first film where Heather turns the camera for one last look at the car, Lisa does the same thing as they head into the Black Hills woods.
5) Crossing the creek
Heather, Mike and Josh cross the creek numerous times but end up in the same spot after walking the same direction all day. That theme carries over into the new film when they leave their camp after the first night and end up in the same place they left hours before.
6) Rock Piles
Rock piles signifying Rustin Parr’s victims show back up outside the tents of James and his crew. Like in the first film, there is a rock pile for each of the campers. Peter is already gone so there was a pile for James, Lisa and Ashley. As in the original, a rock pile gets kicked over, this time by Ashley.
7) Running from the tent
Audiences were freaked out by the sound of children laughing outside of the tent Heather, Mike and Josh were staying in back in 1999. Shortly after hearing the children, their tent is rattled by an unseen force; and our campers run off for the “safety” of the woods. That scene is recreated, but this time, when the witch snatches their tent up into the air, James, Lisa and Ashley head deeper into the woods.
8) CP16 16mm camera
Blink and you will miss this nod to the first film. When Lisa is headed downstairs in the house, just as she turns into the basement, the camera pans slightly down and you see a black object against the wall on the floor. There is a small amount of light coming from the camera to catch your eye. This callback is from when Heather meets her demise at the end of the first film.
9) The basement corner
While nobody is standing in it, Lisa’s camera movement towards that part of the basement is an eerie reminder that audiences were treated to seeing Mike standing there, presumably under Elly’s spell.
10) The boiler in the basement
At the bottom of the steps going into the basement there is a large boiler in full view from Lisa’s POV. In the first film, there was a similar boiler at the bottom of those steps. Nice attention to detail from the director to recreate the sense of reliving Heather and Mike entering the basement.
11) “I’m so sorry”
Just like his sister’s confessional in the first film, James apologizes to Lisa for what has happened to them. Although the POV has changed, the sentiment is the same as James is ready to accept the same fate as his sister.
12) The final shot
Again the audience is treated to the last survivor’s camera falling to the ground as an unseen assailant grabs her. As before, the audience is left with the final image from the camera as well as ambiance of the house until the camera cuts away. This time, instead of the sound of film running through the camera, we hear a slight buzzing sound. Is this the sound of Lisa’s phone going off? Does that mean her body is nearby, or did she drop her phone?
Heading into the woods, Lisa asks Lane about his use of an old DV camera. While he’s explaining about tapes, he mentions that they require more batteries, which was a reminder from the first film. In a quick scene, Heather explains to Josh that they “have enough battery power to fuel a small third world country for a month.”
14) The map
In what might be one of the hardest and most clever Easter eggs of all time, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard have smartly hidden the map from the first film somewhere in the images of Blair Witch. The map is so well hidden that not even executives at Lionsgate know where it is. Simon and Adam have even put out a bounty for the first person to find it, a $200 reward from Adam directly. As of this writing nobody has found the map. Simon has said the map is almost indiscernible on screen, which leads to the viewer having to intently look for one of the most talked about items from the first film.
The Easter eggs and nods to the original film placed within Blair Witch do a great job of not drawing attention to themselves. By not tipping their hand and blatantly winking at the audience, the Easter eggs add to the essence of the film while not distracting from the story. Simon and Adam have done a remarkable job paying homage to a film that has kept people asking if it was real after 17 years.