For my first persuasive media analysis, I would like to discuss the revolutionary found-footage horror film, The Blair Witch Project (1999). The film follows three student filmmakers on a trek through the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland as they search for the titular Blair Witch, a local legend said to haunt the region. While fictional, the story is presented as a documentary; it utilizes largely unscripted dialogue and amateur handheld camera techniques to create an almost mundane sense of authenticity. In addition to the film’s improvisational production style, a large part of what made it so interesting to me was its marketing, which primarily took place on the internet. Prior to its release, fabricated police reports and news interviews were posted to The Blair Witch Project’s official website; this caused quite the stir on the web, as people began to argue over whether or not the film was a piece of fiction.
To extend the illusion even further, missing persons flyers for the three central characters were distributed to audiences at screenings, as the filmmakers prompted viewers to come forward with any information they might have on the students’ disappearance. In my analysis, I would like to examine the stylistic choices made by the directors of The Blair Witch Project, as well as the tactics utilized in its advertisement campaign, both of which contributed heavily to the film’s eerie faux-realism.