Teen Horror Cast

E4: The Blair Witch Project (1999)

September 07, 2021 The Teen Horror Cast Team Season 1 Episode 4
E4: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Teen Horror Cast
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Teen Horror Cast
E4: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Sep 07, 2021 Season 1 Episode 4
The Teen Horror Cast Team

Teen Horror Cast Episode 4: The Blair Witch Project

This movie and our discussion of it feature a bit of body horror and gore. As always, if that feels like it might be too much for you, you should head for the escape hatch and skip this episode. Additionally we will be hard core spoiling this movie! This film in particular is one that you should watch before we discuss it.

Released in 1999 and produced for around sixty thousand dollars, The Blair Witch project grossed over two hundred and fifty million dollars and was one of the first so-called found-footage horror films. Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, the fictional documentary stars Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard each playing characters that share their actual names. It is presented as film and video that was discovered in the woods of Maryland while searching for the missing film makers who, it is stated early on, remain missing.

We talk about:

  • what the film reveals regarding human empathy
  • unstable friend groups and why three is a tricky group number
  • how the mona lisa is like the blair witch
  • broken bones, civilization, and packing well for camping
  • and much more!
Show Notes Transcript

Teen Horror Cast Episode 4: The Blair Witch Project

This movie and our discussion of it feature a bit of body horror and gore. As always, if that feels like it might be too much for you, you should head for the escape hatch and skip this episode. Additionally we will be hard core spoiling this movie! This film in particular is one that you should watch before we discuss it.

Released in 1999 and produced for around sixty thousand dollars, The Blair Witch project grossed over two hundred and fifty million dollars and was one of the first so-called found-footage horror films. Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, the fictional documentary stars Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard each playing characters that share their actual names. It is presented as film and video that was discovered in the woods of Maryland while searching for the missing film makers who, it is stated early on, remain missing.

We talk about:

  • what the film reveals regarding human empathy
  • unstable friend groups and why three is a tricky group number
  • how the mona lisa is like the blair witch
  • broken bones, civilization, and packing well for camping
  • and much more!

Ethan  0:00  
Yeah, close to the mic, right? Yeah. Hi. You do? Listen to this.

This is this is teen horror podcast. ASMR

Sage  0:28  
Hello, and welcome to Episode Four of the teen horror cast, where we watch and discuss horror movies from a team perspective. I'm your host sage, and I'm joined by my co host and unpaid intern, my dad.

Ethan  0:41  
Hi, everybody.

Sage  0:42  
So before we go any farther for this episode, we wanted to talk about where we've been, because I know it's been a pretty long time since our last episode.

Ethan  0:55  
That's true.

Sage  0:56  
Um, so

Ethan  1:00  
I don't know better make something up.

Sage  1:03  
So okay, well, I mean, I was I was gonna say that the, the essay?

Ethan  1:09  
Yeah. And also, life is just busy. And I guess you know, I mean, let's going from school to summer. Again, you want me to say that a little something here, I'll say a little something, which is, this is supposed to be a fun thing that we do. And it has been, and it's only fun if it's not stressful and adding more work.

And I will just say that you wrote an awesome... you spent a lot of time devoting your free time to writing an awesome essay.

Sage  1:36  
Yes, actually, it was kind of five short essays, or Yes, medium length essays. I am really proud of it. It was like kind of an end of year project, very self guided. And I got to choose the topic. And my topic was the history of woman's involvement in horror literature and media, then and now. And it was five chronological essays, the first three were of books and the last two or have movies. And I connected all of them to some facet of feminism. Yeah. So yeah, I thought that was pretty cool. And then school was over for the year. So now it's summertime. And probably I'll have more free time to do this. All right. Well, listen, let's let's jump in. Should we do a content warning? Yes, this movie and our discussion of it features a bit of body horror and gore. As always, if that feels like it might be too much for you, you should head for the escape hatch. Now. Additionally, we will be hardcore spoiling this movie. This film in particular is one that you should watch. Before we discuss it. I really want to make this clear more than any of the other movies we've reviewed, because the ending is just so important. And if it's spoiled before you see it, it's kind of it loses some of its impact, I think.

Ethan  3:04  
So we'll be here waiting for you. If you want to go watch it. Yeah. And you just press pause and come back to us. All right, so from this point forward, it's spoilers galore, everybody. Yeah. Let's go on to the summary, shall we? Yes.

Released in 1999, and produced for approximately $60,000 The Blair Witch Project was one of the first so called found footage horror films.

Film Footage  3:35  
look a little blurry there. Zoom out. Okay. More. Okay, I got you. This is my home. Okay. I am leaving the conference off for the weekend to explore the damage.

Ethan  3:51  
Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, the fictional documentary stars Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard each playing characters that share their actual names. It is presented as film and video that was discovered in the woods of Maryland while searching for the missing filmmakers, who it is stated early on, remain missing.

Film Footage  4:10  
Essential reading, how to stay alive in the woods because you never know what's going to happen. And this is a very important book because it has the article about what happened in coffin rock. Yeah, totally.

Sage  4:22  
Heather is the force behind the notional film project driven, controlling and tightly wound. She has convinced Mike and Josh to assist as sound and camera operators on a documentary. The subject of her film is The Blair Witch, a folk legend about a dark force in the woods around Brooksville, Maryland.

Film Footage  4:40  
Those were the seven kids that were missing and then they bought them out of the woods, one at a time and it just was a terrible thing just tore the whole community of my life really believed in witches, ghosts. Do you believe that there are some in this area

Sage  4:56  
after some interviews with townspeople to get some basic information And rumors about The Blair Witch. The trio heads out into the woods. loaded down with camping and filmmaking gear. They set off a single map and compass to guide them and seek out several backwoods locations central to the Blair Witch story.

Film Footage  5:15  
Packs are on. We're ready to go. We got to go up t o the shack. Shanty. Yes. On our way to Coffin Rock we are totally on track. I know exactly where we are now. I want to... I want to get her going across man.

Sage  5:32  
Primary filming is done using a 16 millimeter film camera. Heather is constantly recording almost everything else on a video camera, the very act of which eventually becomes a point of tension among the small crew.

Film Footage  5:45  
Look, I'm not saying for certain we went on camping here, get near the car. Give me the map. Heather, give me an about turn the camera off, give me turn the camera off and get us home. I'm not turning the camera. I want to I want to I want to mark this occasion. You map. The map is my talk, you're gonna have to wait a second.

Sage  6:01  
The cameras are used as both eyes, flashlights and filmmaking equipment, meaning that key moments and strange events are plausibly recorded as part of the slow descent into horror.

Ethan  6:12  
The group film's a segment at the location of a gruesome mass murder, and then camps for the night filming another segment at a makeshift graveyard The next day, as they attempt to hike out of the woods and back to the car. Heather's leadership is called into doubt when they seem to become lost.

Film Footage  6:25  
Okay, we just did a map check. And it seems like we're still pretty much on trail. So what I said, No, I think All right, come on. Let's just keep going. We took a map reading, we just follow what the compass says we're going straight ahead. We're going that way. You're in the middle of nowhere. We've been in the middle of nowhere for two days. The cars parked in the middle of nowhere, almost. I think we should camp. Why? Because you don't know

Ethan  6:46  
where we're going. Her denial of this creates tension and their inability to reach the car and figure out where they really are creates fractures in their group cohesion. Hello, listen. Hello. Hello. It's all around us.

The night brings strange sounds and eerie events that culminate in the discovery of rock cairns, like the makeshift grave markers they found before that have been built around their tent in the night.

Sage  7:22  
The rest of the film is a spiraling descent into anger, fear, recrimination and irrational acts as they attempt to flee the woods. It seems they're somehow trapped and even being lost can't fully explain that they seem to be walking in circles despite following a compass bearing that should at least get them to a road tree we cross that fence down that's the same one.

Our ability to cope with adversity phrase to the point of breaking, Josh disappears and they are tormented by his screams in the darkness. His bloody teeth wrapped in a bundle of sticks are deposited outside the tent by an unknown entity, Heather and Mike push on but seem to be unavoidably drawn only deeper into the forest, culminating in their discovery of an abandoned house from which they hear Josh calling to. In a frenzied rush, they run through what feels like a labyrinth of decaying rooms only to find their final fate in the basement, a fate that leaves behind only their film and the echoes of their final moments of terror.

Ethan  8:44  
All right, on to the discussion of the film, what were your overall impressions. So when I first saw this film, I realized it was very unique. It was not like many other horror movies that I'd seen, if any. And even like just movies in general, it was very different because of the kind of found footage format and how kind of raw and I mean, obviously it was edited, but it wasn't like standard movie quality, if you know what I mean.

Right? Well, for sure not like everything about it, like especially watching it. We just watched some amazing blu ray transfers of these other films like The ring was like a blu ray restoration that we saw. And to see the this kind of like VHS and 16 millimeter quality footage kind of roughly cut together is such a contrast and the fact that it has had such a continued impact despite being overtly and intentionally low quality is really something

Sage  9:39  
Yeah, it's really great. Like the way it just kind of plunges you into that new way of seeing movies is really cool. Yeah. And also the way they display horror is and terror and just fright is really interesting. There are no special effects. at all. And I remember the makers of the movie specifically wanted that to be a part of the movie that like, there were no special effects or CG or anything like that. And I think that is a really big part of the movie, it makes it feel so much more real, and thus, so much more scary.

Ethan  10:19  
Yeah, you know, it's funny. So one of the, obviously, we're talking to folks that hopefully have already seen the film. And if you have, you know, that The Blair Witch has never shown, I actually read that The Blair Witch, there was actually a scene and there was actually a woman in a white dress in the woods that they had. And there was a scene where they were Heather says, I mean, like, you know, what's that? And is there like, you know, running through the woods, or she's screaming, I don't even remember exactly which scene it was. But it's got to be like, you know, closer to the end of the beginning, for sure. And they were supposed to film the camera person, whoever was on the camera, Josh, at that point, I guess I don't know who was supposed to. Or maybe Mike was supposed to turn right and do a quick shot of that. The Woman in White and the camera person didn't do it. And so we actually, so they ended up not having that footage at all. And they didn't reshoot it intentionally, which I think was cool, because it's like, you never see The Blair Witch, you just don't. And yet Blair, which is terrifying.

Sage  11:14  
Yeah. And so we talked about that in our episode on the ring, and I'm sure in some of the other episodes, but like restraint in horror movies on the part of like, the director, I think is really important, because then your mind is able to fill in those gaps of information that you don't get. And it's so much more scary, because you're only your mind is really able to find you to the extent possible.

Ethan  11:38  
So we had a couple specific scenes that we wanted to talk about, and sort of subjects that correlate to those scenes. One of the first was very beginning going into the woods. I wanted to talk about a lot of horror movies, a lot of films where it is a tragedy, or there's, you know, a horror element. Start off with one bad decision that a character makes in everything sort of dominoes out from that moment for me that that moment in this movie is when they set out into the woods without enough equipment, right. What do they have with them?

Sage  12:09  
In the summary we mentioned that they have only one map and one compass. Yeah. And those items become kind of like tokens. Yeah, like tell us man. Yeah. Like it's the one thing that will get them out of the woods. Yeah, it's their hope. Yeah. And the fact that there's only one makes the kind of strengthens that idea.

Ethan  12:26  
Like during filming, these three actors were they were really picked for their imperva improvisational abilities. They were basically on their own the entire time, they shot all the footage of themselves, right. And they were only in contact with the directors via notes and walkie talkies.

Sage  12:41  
And basically what would happen is the three actors would be kind of put in the this simulated situation of being surrounded by all these strange sounds at Night in the Woods. And those sounds were made by the crew. And so they had to basically just hear them and react to them in a way that their characters would Yeah,

Ethan  13:01  
the filmmakers would actually leave food for them. And as the as of course, the filming went on, they actually left less and less so by the time that filming wraps up, and this is basically like eight days of filming, so it's like just basically like a week. Yeah, at the end of those like eight days, they were pretty cold and hungry and tired. So the cold hungry, tired characters that you see are the cold hungry, tired actors. Yeah, that were on set. Need help? No, I don't need any help. What happened? Nothing. I'm just very hungry, very tired. I just want to go home. Okay. And we're both okay.

Sage  13:41  
And I think that also must have to some extent contributed to the performances they were able to give because it's one thing to kind of imagine being hungry and like physically strained, it's another thing to actually be all those things and that I think that translates into their acting.

Ethan  13:57  
Yeah. So that you know, the fact that they are slowly stripping away all of these aspects of civilization as they're filming and really experiencing that sort of like deteriorating for me that's one of the core elements of the film is that it is nature becomes hostile to them. It's not a safe place or you know, this bubble of humanity to exist anymore. And that's it also reflected in The Blair Witch, right? The Blair Witch is described as almost like an animal right, like covered in fur.

Sage  14:22  
Yeah, they say it looks like she's covered in horse fur

Film Footage  14:25  
only on her on her hands and everything. It was like here they got real dark on loose back here. Like like a horse. Like fur? Ya lika a fur. Like, horse fur.

Ethan  14:40  
So she's very, very much like an animal spirits in a way.

Sage  14:43  
This movie makes me think of this. I think it was a documentary I saw one time about an archaeologist and she said one of the questions that she got asked a lot was what do you look for when you're looking for signs of a civilization and a lot of people assume that it might be something like pottery Or like structure like a building or something. And she says she looks for a healed bone that has been broken. That's a sign of civilization, because it's a sign that within the group that this injured individual was in those other healthy individuals helped them to recover. And they stayed with them. And they kind of tended to their wound, which is something that a lot of animals won't do. Yeah. So I think that's kind of a sign of like, evolutionary empathy, I guess. Yeah. empathy. Yeah. So here we go. empathy. This is the thing I really want to talk about in this movie, which is empathy is such a big at least for me, empathy is such a big part of this movie, and human emotion goes with that as well. Because I think when you have empathy for the characters, that really heightens your experience of the movie, because you're able to connect with them, and you're able to understand where their actions are coming from, like when Heather and Josh are yelling at Mike for getting rid of the map. Okay. Okay, not why I brought you out here, man. Okay, I'm sorry about the map. Okay. What can I say? Please just don't say, you can tell that that anger is coming from a place of real terror that they are not going to make it out of the woods. Yeah, because of this thing that Mike did. And when I watched that scene, I think that is one of my favorite scenes, maybe my favorite scene actually, in the whole movie, because that's the scene where you get, at least for me, I get this gratification of my frustration at Mike translated into the movie through the characters, right? Because of just how mad they're getting at him. And Mike also has kind of he does this, he gets rid of the map, because he's kind of fallen over the edge of rationality. Like, he's kind of I think he's out of all of them the most fragile, and he seems like that. Yeah, the first to kind of break,

Ethan  16:59  
I suppose. Whereas Josh is sort of like the chill, you know, chill, dude. Yeah, like, if you if you had like a two or description of Josh as a character, it's like, mostly chill, dude. Well, that's three words. But yeah, right. Whereas like Heather, tightly wound control freak, I would say, right, yeah. He really wants to stay in control. Josh, mostly chill. I don't know. Do you agree with that? Yeah. No, I really do. Yeah. And then Mike is, I don't know, cry baby unstable. Not sure what I think unstable is all you need to say about him about not trying too hard. Yeah. Because after afterwards, after Josh disappears. I feel better about my Yeah, because he kind of rallies like, instead of them pushing apart and apart and apart. And having all this like tension, they start to come back together. But maybe there's a reason for that.

Sage  17:41  
Right? Yeah, this is another thing I want to talk about is the dynamic of a three person group versus a two person group, I have heard multiple times that a three person friend group is the weakest type of friend group, because there's always room for the dynamic to shift in favor of two people and against one person and that one person feels so alone and isolated. And as someone who was in a three person front of group for like, the majority of the time that I had real friends, I really understand that. And I can relate to that, because at some point or another, we were always like, maybe they would be against me or like, like, I often found myself caught in between fights, because I never wanted to side against someone else. Right? So I would try to comfort both people

Film Footage  18:34  
know what we're here to do. Lets makes some movie. Please, let's not fight, please. Come on. I can't. I can't listen to fighting. I can't fight. We're screwed and that's it. Please stop fighting. Both of you. I'll do the first watch. I got first watch.

Sage  19:00  
Which was really hard at times, because it put a lot of like emotional strain on me to have to mediate this fight. And I think that's kind of the position that Josh finds himself in for most of the movie. He's the kind of adult of the group. He's the one who mediates head there and Mike's emotions for them in a way and he's pretty chill about and for the most of the movie, he doesn't show how hard that must be for him. But it probably is. And there's a moment there's a scene where he's crying.

Film Footage  19:34  
Just leave him alone for now. We need to go five minutes. Like just leave him alone. Five minutes. Come on, he's lost. Know that but we're all on the brink of losing it. We gotta take care of each other. There's no way we're taking care of him if we're gonna throw the camera in his face at least.

Sage  19:55  
And that is the scene where for me as the viewer and for Heather and Mike, we all realize that this is a really serious situation enough to make Josh cry. Like, it's not like anything can do that he's mostly chill. Like he said, right. But when you see him cry, you realize how hard he's been working to be chill.

Ethan  20:15  
Yeah, I don't know that we should I mean, I don't want to Well, I totally agree with what you're saying. And I don't want to over valorize him because his character is imperfect and flawed and has its moments too. But I totally agree with that. I think that it's sort of like an I like seeing like mom or dad cry, right? The other two characters can sort of exercise their own. It's not psychosis, but it's like their own flaws, their own extreme flaws, they really can let those flaws out and kind of run wild whether or not it's like, Heather's extreme need to control or Mike's extreme need to act out. They can kind of let those things run wild. Because Josh, is there as that buffer, right? Yeah, between them until all of a sudden he's not. At first. He's not because he's crying, and he's having an emotional breakdown. And then he's not because he's not there anymore. Right, basically kidnapped or killed or whatever happened.

Sage  21:01  
Yeah. So once Josh goes missing is kind of a big turning. I mean, obviously, it's a big turning point in the movie, because one of the protagonists isn't there anymore. But also within the characters. It's a turning point, because the dynamic, it doesn't just shift it like it's kind of shattered and rebuilt between just Mike and Heather. And that two person bond, I think is stronger than the three person bond ever was because now there's no room for the dynamic to shift.

Film Footage  21:33  
What's your favorite thing to do on a Sunday? It used to be drive to the woods and go hiking. I think that I think you got scratched change,

Sage  21:48  
it kind of stays locked in Mike and Heather both have their roles. And they're both able to kind of mediate each other. Right. And they know that that's both of their responsibilities. And so once Josh goes missing, they kind of come together a little more to find him. And they're a little more organized, and they're a little more calm, right. But by then it's really too late.

Ethan  22:11  
Yeah, yep. That's, that's truly the horror of it, too.

Sage  22:14  
And also, the horror of it is that it took their friend going missing, and probably dying for them to finally cooperate.

Ethan  22:22  
And that takes us to the end of the movie where they they find the the house and they go in. And it's really striking to me that one of the, you know, kind of genius aspects of this film is that it's plausible that they're filming the whole time. Right. And both it's plausible, both as sort of Heather's defense mechanism of just needing to be behind the camera and have that be a buffer between her and reality. And the project itself as the documentary, you know, I got it. It was tricky. I would imagine to really wind that all together in a way which didn't feel forced, but it does come together pretty naturally up until the very end.

Sage  22:57  
Yeah. And I think part of that is also the kind of wonky angles. Yeah, a lot of times you're looking at the ground. Yeah, I know that wood the ground around burtonsville, Maryland very well. Now. Yeah, it's a lot of leaves and trees, sticks, sticks. Yeah, it shows that like, usually when they're running through the woods, the cameras all over the place, because that's what would happen if you're running with a camera, right? And you can hear yelling, and it's just like, it really it adds to the suspense and to the feeling of horror,

Ethan  23:24  
to me that that is one of the aspects of sort of a, maybe a meta level or meta commentary on the horror of that mediated experience. Because you know, this was 1999. And people were not using their phones. There was no, there were no smartphones, right? with cameras, no, 1999 it was all people at camcorders. And you did see people with camcorders glued to their eyes on vacation or, you know, at their kids play or whatever. And it was always it's fine to want to capture a moment, but it's also good to live in the moment.

Sage  23:54  
Right? Yeah. And I feel like kind of a modern version of that is, I mean, obviously, cameras have really only gotten more common since then. And with that, that experience of like mediated reality, which is why you liked this video camera so much.

Film Footage  24:14  
It's not quite reality. Reality says we got to move. Now that just totally like a filtered reality, man. It's like you can pretend everything's not quite the way it is.

Sage  24:33  
I saw this video essay on like, Instagram friendly Museum, which are, I mean, there are museums that like allow pictures, but this is different. It's like museums that are specifically for you to go to to take pictures and presumably post them on Instagram or like wherever they have these really fun, colorful interactive exhibits, you'll find like millions of pictures of people posing the same way in the same place and the demand for those has really gotten a lot higher and like the popularity just because people want to go somewhere and have their entire goal of that trip to be to come out with this picture that they can show to other people, right? If you have an experience and your entire and your thought for the for the whole experience is just I want to get a good picture that I can show to my friends and stuff that experience might be tempered by that, and you won't be able to fully live in that moment. Yeah, I like that. But really, yeah, no, I thought of that. While we were talking about this, yeah. But like, I mean, it makes sense because cameras are so easily accessible. Now,

Ethan  25:38  
you look at the Louvre, you know, your mother and I, you know, we both gone to the Louvre together and seeing the Mona Lisa, but it was years ago, and it was before smartphones were really common. And you know, there was nobody there taking pictures, like selfies with the Mona Lisa, it was it was a popular room, but it wasn't like now where I think they've actually moved it to a different dedicated area, because there's so many people swarming around it just to get a selfie, and it's not, you know, and the rest of the museum isn't obviously empty, one would hope that it has, you know, like there's a follow on effect where people then go to see the rest of the magazine, but it's nowhere near as engaged with as that one exhibit for that selfie. To me, that is sort of a horror, because it's experiences boiled down to solely being about that, that photo, you know, that superficial reflection of an experience? And it may be an experience that you barely remember,

Sage  26:30  
right? Like, except for that one photo? Yeah. Like your every action during that experience is guided by the motivation to get a picture. Yeah. We'll make movies Heather. Now, well, we're here to do this, make some movies.

Ethan  26:58  
And in the movie, you know, everything is motivated by I want to record this, I want to record this and it's either to stay distant from the experience or in sort of this, like this greed. You know, this hunger that she has to record all of this for that for her project. And even when things start to turn,

Sage  27:15  
I would say like, even especially when things start to turn, Heather and Mike are constantly telling her especially as the movie progresses, like stop recording, can you just help us pack up and she's like, okay, okay, and she keeps recording. Yeah, please.

Film Footage  27:31  
Okay, I've got everything on video. And that's it. Let's go. That's enough. Stop taping. Please stop taping. Okay, okay. Okay, we're leaving right now. Okay. Okay, we're out of here. We're out of here. I'm leaving.

Ethan  27:51  
Which, in some way, there's a couple moments where that feels like a betrayal, right? where it feels like they asked you in good, good faith to stop and then you didn't, and like towards

Sage  28:00  
the end, it becomes a matter of survival to just like, stick together and help each other. And she just doesn't do that. Because she's so busy spectating. Yeah, and kind of capturing all this in on the camera. And

Ethan  28:14  
the combination of that, in a way is when when that camera falls to the floor at the end and you see it.

It's, it's doubly horrific. Because you know, at that moment that there's no more mind behind the camera. It's just like, it's just pure voyeurism at that point. It's this camera, which is just kind of like in its last throes, but you assume Heather's that are dying at that point, right? More dragged off or who knows what it's horrific because it actually makes you as a viewer feel more alone. Like you're stuck watching. You're the only one behind the camera.

Sage  28:54  
Yeah, exactly. And you can't move it or anything else just and also, I want to talk a little bit more about the like, actual horror of the movie like the part that's the most scared. Yeah, comes at the very end. So in the very beginning of the movie, as they're before they go into the woods as they're interviewing kind of the citizens of little town. One of them says that. Oh, yeah, I heard. I've heard about The Blair Witch. I heard that she captured like seven children, I think it was and kept them in her attic. And she would take them down to the basement in pairs. And she would make one face into the corner of the room. And she would eat the other one because she didn't like them watching her eating.

Film Footage  29:34  
What he did is he took the kids down in the basement by Tuesday made one face into the corner, really. And then he would kill the other one. And then was done with that he grabbed the one other corner and kill that one too. And those were the seven kids that were missing and then they bought them out of the woods.

Sage  29:51  
And you kind of forget about that until the very end of the movie where Heather runs down to the basement with her camera to find Mike and you just see Kind of like two seconds shot of Mike standing in the corner with his head down. And then you remember that moment where that guy was telling about the kind of he think you assumed it was like just a myth or something like that. But then you're like, oh my god. Yeah. There's about to be in by The Blair Witch. Yeah,

Ethan  30:18  
I you know, what I really like about that is that they they respect the audience enough at our memory enough to not pound us over the head. Right mythology? Yeah, like there's a little bit in the beginning. The rest of it is chaos. Up until the very end where it ties it right back to the the commentary in the beginning from the townspeople.

Sage  30:33  
Yeah, I really hate when movies are like, I guess the directors of the movies assume that the audience

Ethan  30:39  
or the or the studio executives who are taught, you know, like toying with things a little, trying to, like, you know, make things more clear for the average American viewer.

Sage  30:47  
Like, if they don't get it? Yeah, then I mean, they can watch it again, they can talk to someone else, they can just not get it. Yes. But for the people who do get it, that'll be so much better for them. I'd rather like even if I was the one who didn't get it, I'd rather have like a few people who do get it and who will be able to appreciate that then everyone who gets it, but it there's like no ambiguity. And it's just like, right in your face, you know?

Ethan  31:11  
Or there's Yeah, and there's movies like a lot of you know, David Lynch work, which is very dreamlike. And there isn't necessarily like a logical, cohesive causal answer to everything. Sometimes the answer is a kind of a dream logic answer and to live into a except that into experience. That is a totally different way of watching Phil. It certainly requires more of the viewer, I think, to just sort of accept that. Yeah.

All right. Let's see, what else do we want to talk about? I think we should probably mention that the film made $250 million off of like, I mean, the budget could be anywhere. I've heard estimates from 60, to like, 100, even $200,000. But I suspect that it's, you know, in the middle of there somewhere the return on investment is staggering. Yeah, the fact that this film looks like it was, you know, filmed on some high school video camera. Oh, by the way, you know, what else I read? Was that the video camera that they use the video video on the film? Yeah, the video camera that they used, they held, they bought it from some electronic store. Yeah, they filmed the whole thing. And then they took it back to the store to return it. Oh, my God, just imagine that, you know, somebody went to that store and then bought this camera. Imagine having that camera, right? Somebody does. Somebody did and they didn't know, right? It's probably sitting in somebody's attic somewhere. Okay,

Sage  32:32  
so I wanted to talk about the external part of the making of this movie, and how the people who made it worked so hard to make it kind of ambiguous as to whether this was a real found footage thing. Like, like, are these people real? And so they went to extreme measures to kind of bring this to life, like the actors, right? We're not supposed to do any interviews, or like, kind of even like, appear in public, I think at all right? Because like prior to the release, right? And there's because it was supposed to be like, oh, they've gone missing, and they will put up missing posters for the actors all over the country. Yeah.

Ethan  33:12  
Especially on college campuses. Right? Yeah. Just on sort of those college, you know, the college crowd,

Sage  33:17  
and they made a website, I went to the website, it is sadly not up anymore. I was like, crushed to find that out because it just looked so cool. I saw a video about it. But like

Ethan  33:29  
Whereas I did see the website back back in the day.

Sage  33:31  
I just, I wish I had been around for the release of that movie, because it seems kind of like an interactive puzzle, you know?

Ethan  33:38  
Yes. Yeah. Well, I mean, that there were films subsequent to that, that were released explicitly as puzzles or even like video games and things like that. I think there was marketing around the first version of Halo that was like, definitely supposed to be like, they call them AR games back then augmented reality games, right. But this was like augmented reality, marketing or viral marketing in a way, which was, like you said, totally ambiguous, or maybe not even ambiguous, but like, straight up? Oh, no, they're missing. You know, this is a documentary, which I think you probably would have a hard time getting away with? Well, for a number of reasons today.

Sage  34:11  
Yeah. So I was gonna talk about that. But first, I want to talk about the website. So it's this website that was supposed to be dedicated to the kind of lore surrounding The Blair Witch, but it wasn't the lore surrounding the actual movie, it was surrounding The Blair Witch herself. So it was like there was a bunch of information about it. There was information about the filmmakers is like talking about how like they were college students, and Heather Donahue is like making this cool movie. And they're also there was a place where people could actually post their own ideas. And I think that is a genius idea to let real people kind of feed into that cuz people are always going to be like, Oh, no, I saw this thing. I heard this thing. This looks real and obviously They're going to be beat. Obviously, they're going to be people who are like, Oh, this doesn't like real. But like, I don't know, it just creates this aura of mystery.

Ethan  35:06  
I think it's tricky today too, because we have now a bigger problem with misinformation online. Right back then it seemed harmless. And I think that there was no real, I think there was probably a little bit of discussion around the ethics of presenting it as like actual disappearance, etc. But I don't remember being obviously was not a showstopper. It obviously if there was criticism, it was pretty, pretty mild. And it ended up feeling and it was done in a way. It just ended up feeling amazingly cool. Yeah, you definitely can. And today, I think it'd be much harder to do because we all have such footprint online, like people would be all they would be all over researching. Are these real people? Do they have, you know, like, you just couldn't do it, I think is successfully, like the fact that they could kind of just lay low. Yeah. And like that was so that they were cool with that, like, Oh, you don't want me to appear in public? No problem. Exactly. Yeah, like, it's pretty amazing that these it was a real scrappy production, and they really kind of caught fire, they really had the right people as the characters as the actors.

Sage  36:02  
Yeah, I think I found I find that kind of disappointing that it wouldn't be really possible to do today. Because like, there's like reverse image search, there's like, if the actual actors don't have any sort of footprint online, which is like already pretty hard to do, then someone they know, surely does. And maybe that person would happen to have a picture of them and the person together, and it would just really not be possible.

Ethan  36:27  
I mean, at that point, you know, the web was really only been around since I mean, the web proper, really since like, 93. Ish, I want to say, yeah, and, and not not popular even back then, you know, like, 9495, I had email and like, nobody I like very few other people had email, right, you know. And by 99, it was certainly, like, totally different. But it was still so early in some ways that you could just do stuff that would just not be possible.

Sage  36:54  
Yeah. So. And I feel like people are also, I mean, obviously, I was not around back then. But I feel like people are kind of more cynical today, as a result of the copious amount of information on the internet. And the fact that with such a large amount of information, obviously, some of that is going to be fake. And so people kind of have learned to view things with a critical eye, which I think is a very valuable skill to have to not immediately assume everything you read is true. But yeah, I think it was such a genius idea of promotion for the movie. And then when I came out, it was like, Oh, my gosh, like this is this is the movie.

Ethan  37:36  

All right. Next question is, what would you change, if anything in this film,

Sage  37:51  
so this film is so unconventional in terms of how it presents horror and how it just presents itself? I don't even know where I would start or trying to like change something. And I don't think I even want to because I don't know, this film just seems to perfectly capture the idea of human fallibility in this kind of little short, very concentrated kind of experiment almost is the way I think of it of like, how far can humans go before they break?

Ethan  38:23  
Every time I see this movie, I think there's a couple parts that kind of drag for me. And I think, well, you should cut those out, you know, cut out, cut out the getting lost in the woods part or tighten it up somehow, I actually don't know that you could, because I kind of feel like you need to sit with the characters and watch them go through in about that much time. And that if it were any shorter, you wouldn't feel that even though like let's say you cut out a couple of the scenes in the middle. And so the same arc occurs more or less, but you wouldn't feel I think the same level of tension.

Sage  38:49  
Right? And like the way you said it drags on, imagine how it must feel for them with the added tension of are we even going in the right direction? Yep.

Ethan  38:57  
I asked myself that all the time. How about our signature question? Is it turn the lights on? Scary?

Sage  39:02  
So this movie, I think it's kind of unique in that I would say for the first viewing? Yes, it really is. But because the horror of it kind of relies on suspense rather than visual horror or a jumpscare horror, you kind of lose some of that on the second viewing because you know what's coming. So I'd say definitely the first time and then the second time and the more you watch it, it kind of is less scary, but it's still a great movie for sure.

Ethan  39:31  
I feel the same way. First viewing turn the lights on scary second, second viewing, scary but not as bad. And

Sage  39:36  
that's why I wanted people to watch it before they listen to this, which hopefully you have anybody listening to this, because I just detracts from the scary experience if you already know what's coming. Yeah,

Ethan  39:50  
it is a special and unique film. All right. I think that is pretty much it. Should we wrap up?

Sage  39:56  
Yep. Thank you for joining us for this episode of the teen horror Cast. You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram at teen horror cast where we'd love to hear from you. Let us know what films you'd like to hear us review and see you next episode. Bye bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai