Blair Witch Project
Joshua Leonard films the project's first day

The hype was better

Pop Culture 101: Which Witch is "witch"?

'Blair Witch Project':
Hitchcock-style horror

By Casey Hailey

There's no blood, no guts, no graphic visual shots of carnage. There's just you, the darkness and a million horrifying possibilities racing through your mind.

"I was crying. I was afraid. I was terrified," said Kevin Overstreet, 18, one of the many students who saw the premier of "The Blair Witch Project" at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The movie, which will be in theaters July 16, is a psychological horror film that, according to Overstreet, leaves audiences, "gripping their jackets and crying in their seats."

Cut to look like a documentary -- or rather pieces of one -- the movie is about three student filmmakers who go into a forest near Burkittsville, Md., to investigate an old urban legend about a witch. They disappear, but a year later the footage they shot is found.

"The actors shot the entire film. We wanted total realism, so we had them shoot it from the first-person perspective," explained co-writer/co-director Dan Myrick in an interview with us.

"There wasn't even a set. They gave them (the actors) food and water and a global tracking device and for the next eight days (the actors) never were in contact with the crew (except when they were being scared by them)," said Overstreet, who had a chance to talk with the actors at the film festival.

Myrick said that he auditioned over 2,000 actors to find those who fit specific personality profiles, but there was no scripted dialogue.

"That is all their own," he said.

"The characters used their real names in the films. They knew their 'characters' well, and knew the general setup of the 'story,' but everything that happens as the story unfolds was a surprise to them. It's why the film is so believable," said Eric Alan and Abigail Marceluk, two Blair Witch "fanactics" that put together an unofficial Web site for the film The Blair Witch Project Fanatic's Guide Web site.

In fact, the movie is so believable that when the three actors, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard and Heather Donahue, came out on stage at the film festival, the audience was surprised they were still alive, Overstreet said.

Like Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds," "The Blair Witch Project" has the potential to confuse audiences about what is fact and what is fiction.

"'The Blair Witch Project' is entirely fictional. It is the brainchild of the film's co-writers/co-directors, Ed Sanchez and Dan Myrick ... as are all the supporting documents (posted on the official Web site) and all the events in the Blair Witch mythology," states the Fanatics site. "The filmmakers wanted to create a sense of history to add to the depth and believability of the film."

"It makes the movie more true to life ... and genuine," said Overstreet. "This could actually happen to me -- to any college student. Most other horror flicks seem staged."

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