Prelude: A Unique Place in Time, Part I
by Steve Sutton

I wish I could explain the mystifying effect this movie has had on me.

First, let me explain that I am a relatively successful 33-year-old man with a wife, four kids and a home in the suburbs of Houston. While I identify somewhat with collegians (Iíve never felt comfortable with the term "Gen X"), I find myself equally comfortable with folks my parents age. I donít have the time to peruse the web or partake of on-line chats -- though I have been known to occasion a message board or two. And despite my somewhat rebellious youth, I have adjusted nicely to the mundane world of work and raising kids with the woman I love.

My first knowledge of "The Blair Witch Project" came when I noticed an ad in our local paper. In fact, I was looking for show times for "The Haunting" and BWP looked very interesting, what with Heatherís half-face and wide eye illuminating the picture. I was somewhat captivated by the look of terror in her face -- not fear, not wonder, but pure, unadulterated terror.

When our neighbors declined the invitation to head off into the night to see BWP, my wife chose to pass also. You see, my reputation as a maverick with eclectic tastes was my undoing. Iíve been known to spend an afternoon of solitude (while the family is elsewhere) watching "Lawrence of Arabia", or buried in a savory game on my computer. "Diablo" and "Baulderís Gate" are two favorites, and alas, my wife and friends were afraid that BWP might be some sort of gore-fest or, even worse, a real documentary.

Thus began my quest to identify more about this mysterious "Blair Witch Project". I fired up my favorite search engine. From "the official site" to the "Blair Witch Ate My Balls", I was overwhelmed. Site after site of amazed fans, marveling at this little 82-minute movie.

The more I read the more I became convinced that I had to see BWP.

It seemed pure genius. Create an urban legend by inventing the ghost of a witch who has haunted a small community for hundreds of years. Make it more realistic by fabricating the journals and stories of legend. Base the myth on enough fact to create questions in the minds of viewers. Make it possible, if not improbable, that the whole thing is real. Create the reality from which this one, specific documentary could emerge -- the right people in the right place at the wrong time. The very wrong time.

Since my wife & friends were out of the picture, I hyped the uniqueness of BWP to my two brothers-in-law, both of whom were very willing to attend, one with his wife and one with his date.

Procuring tickets was particularly challenging since I was babysitting the 5-month-old and since we targeted the 6pm showing for the same day, last Saturday. My presence in line at the River Oaks Theatre turned some heads, especially since I appeared clad in my daddy-gear, with a stroller and an infant, standing in the 98į heat of a Houston summer day, wet with the dripping humidity. It seems the biggest fear of the fifty or so fellow patrons-to-be was that I would bring the baby into the show. I quashed that rumor as quickly as it began by explaining my mission: the pre-purchase of 6 tickets for the 6pm show as I still held out hope that I could persuade my wife to go with me.

The fear of a screaming baby inside a scream-film evaporated, and I was able to strike up a conversation with other line-dwellers. I was amazed by how varied their views and backgrounds were. Some believed BWP was real, as they had heard from a friend who knew one of the brothers of a girl from the same college as Heather -- the urban legend was growing right in front of me! Finally, after fanning the baby and quashing rumors of the filmís non-fiction status, I was able to secure tickets.

And now the fun begins.

Steve is from Houston.

© Copyright 1999 Eileene Coscolluela