The Blair Witch Project Almost Didn’t Have Its Iconic Ending
The indie horror film The Blair Witch Project is truly a special film. It helped kick off the found footage genre – yes, I know it came after Cannibal Holocaust – and the way it used marketing was nothing short of brilliant. Made for peanuts, figuratively, the film went on to earn nearly $250 million worldwide, making it perhaps the most successful horror film in existence, at least when it comes to ROI.
One of the most iconic parts of the film is the ending, which sees Heather descend into the basement of an abandoned house only to find Mike standing in the corner. As she nears him, she gets hit, the camera drops, and the film ends. It was a wonderfully effective ending that didn’t betray the mystery of the Blair Witch or see it go from terrifying to cheesy in the span of a few moments. Personally, I adore the film and I love the ending. However, it turns out that the film might have had a radically different ending if Artisan’s execs had their way!
Speaking with EW, co-directors Eduardo Sanchez and Dan Myrick explained that there was something far more bloody and gruesome that they were considering. The site describes them as including, “Mike hanging from a noose, crucified on a wooden stick man, and with a bloodied chest.”
Myrick explains, “We went back to that house with a skeleton crew and basically just shot all the endings that Ed and I threw out when we were dreaming up the script.”
Then, inspiration struck and the duo filmed a new interview segment that spoke of Rustin Parr and his method of killing. “There was one additional pick up. We shot an interview with a guy where he explains a little bit of the mythology of the killer Rustin Parr; how he would make one kid stand in the corner while he killed the others. We felt that if we stuck it in early in the movie there was going to be some audience members that would connect it to the ending,” explains Sanchez
Luckily, Sanchez and Myrick persuaded Artisan to keep the original ending with this new pick up. Myrick states, “What makes us fearful is something that’s out of the ordinary, unexplained. The first ending kept the audience off balance; it challenged our real world conventions and that’s what really made it scary.”
Good job on Artisan for allowing the original ending to remain! I don’t know how horror would’ve been different had The Blair Witch Project not been as influential as it is today but I think, without a doubt, it’d be in a lesser place.