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The very end of The Blair Witch Project is one of the best finales in modern horror. There's no gore, there's no CGI, and there's no monster: you just see a guy standing in a corner, and it's the most terrifying thing ever. Its genius comes from the mix of simplicity and subtle setup, and it's incredibly effective. So, naturally, when Artisan Entertainment got a hold of the movie all the way back in the late 1990s, it was the first thing that they wanted to change.
This bit of trivia was recently revealed by directors Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, who recently attended the Denver’s Mile High Horror Film Festival and took the time to sit down for an interview with Bloody Disgusting. Discussing the end of their debut feature film, they not only revealed that Artisan wanted to change the ending when they signed on as a distributor, but also that the final moments of the movie were thought up just a few days before they were actually filmed. Originally, they were hoping to have some kind of big, "spectacular" finish, but they were ultimately completely handcuffed by the production's utter lack of budget. While this may sound like a bad thing, it ended up making the filmmakers think more creatively and come up with something more in-line with the entire rest of the movie. Said one of the directors (BD doesn't specify),
"There are no real gags in the movie, we weren’t showing anything, you know, except a bundle of sticks and some teeth. And then maybe two or three days before we had to shoot the ending we came up with the idea…Artisan wanted to change it when they bought the movie. That was the first thing they wanted to do was change the ending."
Obviously the studio note wound up getting thrown away and the ending Myrick and Sanchez originally filmed stayed in the final cut, but I do still find myself wondering what Artisan had in mind. The easiest guess is that they actually wanted audiences to see the Blair Witch, which is something I'm very happy never happened - especially if it would have looked like the action figure that was eventually designed by Todd McFarlane’s McFarlane Toys.
Let's all be grateful that the ending of The Blair Witch Project remained in-tact after it got its distribution deal, and to celebrate I would recommend all of you revisit the movie (it is the Halloween season after all). For those of you who just want to watch the finale, however, head on over to Page Two.