Perhaps the most iconic horror movie from the 1990's is The Blair Witch Project. One of the most successful independent films of all time, The Blair Witch Project horrified audiences by revolutionizing the found footage genre, while also marketing the film as real life clips of three missing filmmakers. One of the main reasons why the movie was so terrifying is how little was actually shown of the titular villain. Namely, nothing was shown from the Witch at all. Instead, the final moments saw Mike facing the basement wall before protagonist Heather is attacked off camera. But this was apparently not the only ending.
Blair Witch Project co-director Dan Myrick recently spoke to EW about the iconic movie, and revealed a much more gory and horrifying fate for the character Mike. Rather than ending up in the basement, another ending saw Mike hung from the trees by a noose, crucified, and suffering a wound to the chest. Pretty gruesome stuff. Myrick said:
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.
Looks like there were quite a few different endings to The Blair Witch Project, so why did they chose the now iconic one that's in the movie?
It turns out that the unknown is actually way scarier to audiences, compared to actually seeing whatever ghoul or witch was stalking Heather and company. Indeed, Dan Myrick revealed in the same interview that the film tested as the most scary when filled with ambiguity. Of course, there were quite a few people who were either confused or let down by the ending, but you can't win 'em all.
Dan Myrick went into more detail about the terror that comes with confusion, saying:
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.
The man does make sense. It's possible that The Blair Witch Project wouldn't have been as massively popular if the film's villain was actually featured. That ending kept conversation about the film going, and encouraged folks to hit the theaters for a rewatch.
In fact, The Blair Witch Project's ending was expanded quite a bit with its recent sequel Blair Witch. In the sequel, which came out just last year, Heather's brother James sets back into those same woods in an attempt to find his long missing sister. The ritual of looking at the brick wall (as Mike did in the ending) was explained, as the Witch could apparently only kill you if you faced her. So staring directly at the wall is the final line of defense from the malevolent force.
Blair Witch's plot was a great way to tie in the original ending, and give more weight to the creative decisions from The Blair Witch Project. The film series now has a bonafide canon of its own, leaving the possibility for more movies open.