The Blair Witch Project almost had a wildly mediocre ending

I consider THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT to be the scariest film ever made. I can get myself all freaked out just thinking about it late at night. And let me tell you, I don't scare easily. I have seen basically ever horror movie there is so let me stress that that shite ain't easy. One of the factors that ups the fear ante is the abrupt and mysterious ending.

But the film almost had another wildly mediocre ending attached to it, courtesy of the studio. BLAIR WITCH PROJECT co-directors Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez recently spoke it EW about this alternate ending.

The Blair Witch Project co-director Dan Myrick on the original ending, the one still in place:

When we came up with that ending we had been agonizing over making sure there was a pay-off. We didn’t want to lead the audience on this entire build-up and then just cut to black; there needed to be some kind of what-the-f–k moment at the end, but at the same time we didn’t want to see a person in a bad witch costume come out and grab them.”

Amen to that, I say. Co-director Eduardo Sanchez agrees:

“Our big struggle with the movie was always how to end it. We didn’t have any money, so we couldn’t do any special effects so we had to figure out how to end it without ruining the rest of the film. We came up with the idea three days before we shot it. We thought it was great — kind of unexplained, but it gave you the idea that something supernatural was happening.”

However, that unexplained element caused some problems come test screening time, Myrick says:

When we screened it, people were overwhelmingly confused. However, when asked if they were scared, 19 out of 20 hands went up. 

Sanchez adds:

But the distributor, Artisan, was spooked in a will-this-movie-flop kind of way. They wanted us to do something more definitive.

And so they sent Myrick and Sanchez back to the trees to film several possible endings, which included Mike hanging from a noose, crucified on a wooden stick man, and with a bloodied chest, says Myrick:

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.” 

While they were at it, the directors also shot an interview to explain Mike’s wall stare-down, says Sanchez:

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.”

When they took footage back to executives, the directors expressed their preference for the original ending, says Myrick: 

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.”

Sanchez remembers an exec telling them, 

“Okay, but it’s going to cost us millions at the box office.’’ 

Yeah, sure thing, studio. The film ended up grossing over $248 million dollars worldwide. That's about 4 thousand times its budget. Do you think the film would have gathered that amount had Mike been hanging off a stick man like, "Hey, Heather, you should probably leave? This witch-chick ain't having it."

I'm just glad they didn't end the flick with some strange, long-armed, yellow monster screaming thing chasing the cast through the house, while UFO lights streamed in through the cracks in the walls-- oh, wait...

I'm kidding. I loved the ending to BLAIR WITCH.

Extra Tidbit: The last act of BLAIR WITCH is a nightmare in the best possible way.
Source: EW



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