Stroke of Luck Into the Unknown
by Dave Horvath
Last night (July 14, 1999) I arrived at the location that had been designated to show the advanced 7:30pm screening of The Blair Witch Project, and much to my surprise, upon my arrival at 6:07pm, I was already greeted with a line stretching further than I had anticipated with a group of people all clutching the same pass I was given. A little uncertainty was in the air, because the theater had no sign of the movie even taking place there. No signs, no banners, just a line of equally confused individuals. You could feel the energy in the air as some were speaking of information they had heard about the movie itself, and others eavesdropping and butting in to absorb this wealth of knowledge. I, in fact, was greeted by a couple who knew very little about the movie, only the story, and had asked me if the story was in fact true. Not wanting to spoil anything for the guests, I shrugged and played as if I had no idea of the validity, but was sure of the legend.
6:45pm. The line now almost tripled from where I had originally joined it. It coiled along the inside of the theater and out the front door, eventually up the stairs where I had lost sight of the end. Cult following? Who
knows, but everyone was there for one reason, to be scared. A man who seemed to have authority in the matter began walking up and down the line and asking if anyone had press passes. I was unaware that I was involved with the same screening that all of the newspapers, television, and radio personalities would be viewing to give their honest opinions. I knew this was going to be a pretty special experience. All before my thoughts could finish on the magnitude of this private show...the line moved.
Now seated, anxiously awaiting the show, the theater quickly filled up to maximum capacity. There was not a single seat left in the entire theater. A man in a well put together suit was coordinating the whole event and making sure that absolutely everyone got in, until every seat had an occupant. A quick introduction and welcome speach incurred, and then, the lights dimmed.
No trailers, no commercialism or advertisements for the refreshment stand, no opening credits. The theater grew dark, and on the screen in front of us the now famous words appeared on the screen. "In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared into the woods..." A cheer broke out from the occupants of this cinema, and the movie was underway.
The beginning of the movie was, if nothing else, incredibly humorous, and you quickly grew attached to all three of the people in their own unique way. All three students possessed a persona that you could immediately identify with, being either a personality similar to yours, or one similar to a friend you know. While getting to know these three people, you are almost entranced with them and their fate is, for the time being, pushed back to the back of your mind, where it will be retrieved later.
I dont want to spoil any of the movie for you, but I can say, you need to see this movie. If you have followed the path these filmmakers have made, you need to seek closure by finally seeing the production that has been an
underground buzz for almost 2 years now. In my honest opinion, the movie was put together very well. The story progressed nicely, you were introduced to the characters appropriately, and the back story of the whole
legend was presented enough to, even if you didnt know the story already, you could follow it along enough to pick up the subtle hints all through the movie. You definately have to have an imagination in this movie, because
its not a Hollywood glitzed up movie that lays everything out for you. Its the kind that lets your mind dwell on the unknown. You draw your own conclusions, thats the beauty of it. One area where I think it fell short
was the fact that the directors didnt keep the story hush hush enough about its validity. I think had I gone in there not knowing it had been staged, I would have been more frightened. Chills still ran down my spine at the
appropriate times, but I wasnt checking my closets upon returning to my bedroom later that evening. I imagine the reason why I felt that way was my own doing, by being so relentless in my pursuit of information about this, I
may have stumbled on too much and spoiled it for myself. But with that being said, its definately not a movie to be missed.
After the screening, the few remaining people that stayed to watch the credits and listen to the eerie music that played while the blurry credits rolled up the screen, were greeted with another representative of the event who said he had a special treat for those who chose to stick around. He handed out passes to a second Blair Witch screening. I questioned why he would do this, but I stayed to listen to what he had to say. Now, as I stated before, I'm just a little more than an hour away from Burkettsville, little did I know that these passes were for a second screening, at night, in the woods where the movie was filmed, in front of Coffin Rock. Talk about scary! Apparently, as he stated, for those who feel they can venture up a trail for an hour and sit out in the woods to view a movie on a smaller screen and inferior sound than a cinema, can be treated by viewing it in a very familiar location. Can I resist? You bet your ass I'm going! This is going to take place on the 22nd of July at Midnight, so I will keep you informed on how it goes...if I make it back. =)
Dave presently takes residence in the Northern Virginia area surrounding the Washington DC metropolitain.