Back in 1999, I went to see the Blair Witch Project. At the tender age of 14 I was desperate to see that darn movie. I'd taped the special "The Curse of the Blair Witch" off TV, I'd taped the trailer off TV, I was set. An avid entertainment journalism reader, I already knew the film was faked but I was desperately intrigued by this notion of asserting realness in horror films. (so much so it was actually a topic in a paper I did for my MA)
Since it's on Netflix I recently re-watched it. Well, half re-watched it. It certainly didn't scare me nearly as much as it once did but it was a nice trip down Nostalgia Lane. One thing I always loved about The Blair Witch was the ambiguous ending. You didn't see anything for sure. Who knows what happened down there. I always assumed it was Elly Kedward aka The Blair Witch, some deformed half-alive entity tormenting the young filmmakers. But lo, there are entire theories that involved other characters and people in the demise of Heather, Mike and Josh.
Before we begin traipsing down Theory Avenue (adjacent to Thesis Crescent) let's do a quick recap. The town of Blair was terrorized by a woman named Elly Kedward who kidnapped children and took them to her home in the woods to kill them. The townspeople had enough and strapped her to a wagon and left her in the woods for the elements to claim her. But the problem when you burn a witch is they tend to like to come back and torment the town. Y'know, for fun. And revenge.
In any event, horrible things have been happening in Blair (now Burkittsville) including a mass murder named Rustin Parr who also lived in the woods and claimed he was taking orders from the Blair Witch. The town has pretty much returned to normal but the locals still fear the woods. As one "resident" put it, "I believe enough not to go in there."
So Heather, Mike and Josh go into the woods and it all goes horribly wrong. In-fighting, getting endlessly lost and at the climax Josh goes missing. As they keeping looking for him, stranger and stranger things begin to happen until they wind up at a house in the middle of the woods after following what they believe are Josh's cries for help. Mike follows the sounds to the basement and Heather goes after him. Once she reaches the basement we catch a glimpse of Mike facing the corner. Heather screams, the camera drops and the footage ends.
So what exactly happened? Who else was there? And why?
Well, I found a pretty sweet Angelfire website that, I think, has every possible theory. Seriously. It took me the better part of an afternoon to get through them all. In any event here are some of my favourite theories but if you'd like to take a gander yourself, here's the the site.
Theory the first - Mary Brown did it. I'm starting with this because it blew my fucking mind. For those of you that don't remember, Mary Brown was the old lady who the filmmakers spoke to at the beginning of the film who stated that she actually encountered the Blair Witch when she was a child. The theory goes that Mary Brown is actually the Blair Witch's Familiar. (a person under the control of a supernatural entity who does their bidding) No, it doesn't make sense that an old woman would traipse through the woods following some punk-ass filmmakers but what if she had some awesome witch powers? If you really want to blow your mind check this out.
Theory the second. Josh did it. If you follow the film closely, Josh is the first one to hear noises at night and what does the Blair Witch loooooooooooooooooooove to do? Posses people. Let's say she could infiltrate Josh first because he was the most suseptable or whatever. The rest of the film is him throwing a wrench into the whole shoot, picking fights with Heather etc. After he leaves the camp site he screams bloody murder knowing Heather and Mike will come looking for him and finally it is him that hits Heather in the head in the end.
Theory the third. Mike did it. If you listen to the dialogue early on in the film, Mike volunteers to come on the shoot. And clearly anyone who volunteers is eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. He also seems to react to things in fear before he knows the full story. See: Heather finding the rock piles.
I still like to believe it was the Blair Witch doing all this. No ghosts or other serial killers. Some decomposing, powerful, vengeful witch who's still out there and doesn't need to rely on possession to harm you.
I think I'll be sleeping with the lights on tonight.