The Blair Witch Project Could Have Had A Much Bloodier Ending
The interwebs are currently flooded with news about alternate endings for Alien, Get Out, Rogue One and even The Shining, so it should come as no surprise that Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, the co-directors of 1999 horror hit The Blair Witch Project, have recently come out with an exciting alternate ending tidbit of their own.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Myrick and Sánchez explained that the film’s original ending (which was ultimately the ending they ended up sticking with) didn’t go over well with test audiences because many people found it unclear. “When we screened it, people were overwhelmingly confused,” says Myrick. “However, when asked if they were scared, 19 out of 20 hands went up.”
Worried that the film’s purposely ambiguous conclusion would scare away movie-goers, The Blair Witch Project‘s distributor asked Myrick and Sánchez to film a few alternate, more definitive endings. According to Myrick, those endings included film student Mike (Michael C. Williams) “hanging from a noose, crucified on a wooden stick man, and with a bloodied chest.”
The Blair Witch crew also shot a short additional scene in which the “mythology”of Rustin Parr—a child murderer who apparently “made one kid stand in the corner while he killed the others”—is explained, giving context as to what happens when Mike faces the corner of an abandoned house and fellow film student Heather (Heather Donahue) is attacked and drops her camera in horror right before the credits roll.
When Myrick and Sánchez showed the new footage to their distributor, they were told to hang on to their original ending but to include the new Rustin Parr interview bit in order to lessen audience confusion while still maintaining a sense of the unknown. “The first ending kept the audience off balance, Myrick told Entertainment Weekly. “It challenged our real world conventions and that’s what really made it scary.”
Ironically, Myrick and Sánchez were nevertheless told by film executives that keeping the ambiguous ending would cost the film “millions.” But, as horror fans all probably know, The Blair Witch Project was an incredible financial hit, making about 4,000 times their meagre budget of $60,000 at the box office.
Unlike Get Out, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever actually get to watch the alternate footage for the almost 20-year old Blair Witch, but we’re looking forward to seeing the inevitable artist renderings of Mike succumbing to his would-be gory fate regardless.