Twenty years ago today, The Blair Witch Project hit theaters after an unprecedented, months’ long marketing campaign capitalizing on America’s increasingly accessible internet connections and penchant to be, uh, a bunch of gullible, distraction-craving dumbasses. Yep, before that one friend of yours swore Slenderman was a real thing, there existed a website detailing the complex, spooky history of the supposed Blair Witch of Burkittsville, Maryland, and the town’s recent troubles regarding some missing college students.
Directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick’s Web 1.0 site for their indie flick was impressively thorough. There was a timeline of loosely-based American macabre history ranging from colonial-era witch excommunications to a 1940s sensationalized serial killer trial evoking In Cold Blood via The Crucible. Curious visitors poking around the website’s rudimentary links would also turn up Quicktime video interviews with supposed experts and surviving family members, along with police evidence photos of the missing college kids. Perhaps most importantly, there was also a message board for anyone interested in discussing the mysteries, building a rabid fanbase for a film no one had even seen yet.
Unfortunately, the internet isn’t kind to many things, including aging and outdated web pages, so it’s not surprising the Blair Witch site was soon lost amid exponentially increasing online clutter, even as the film went on to cement itself in pop culture history. But, like any good ghost worth its weight in ectoplasm, the original Blair Witch Project website still lurks within the halls of the Internet, haunting the house in which it supposedly died many years ago. The www.blairwitch.com domain still exists, but a trip there only reveals a sleek, if dormant, website for Adam Wingard’s surprisingly alright 2016 rebootquel. However, another address extension buried within leads to a pristine time capsule of late-nineties creepypasta in the form of The Blair Witch Project’s entire original website incarnation.
So in honor of the little-indie-spook-flick-that-could’s 2oth anniversary, how about taking a stroll back down Nightmare Lane to relive some of your childhood traumas? Unfortunately, the audio and video components are probably too outdated to run on current computers, and the closest thing to the original message board lays on a separate—but also adorably outdated—site, but it’s still fun to see how little it took to scare the shit out of so many people.