Disclaimer: The last thing I want to do is ruin the movie for anyone, so if you haven't taken in The Blair Witch Project yet, stop reading right now. You won't get it, anyway. And I don't want to hear anyone saying, "Shut uuuuup, I haven't seen it yet."
If I ever meet the guys who made "The Blair Witch Project," I'm going to kick them in the neck. Then I'll pitch them my idea for a sequel, "Mothra vs. The Blair Witch on the Island of Cannibal Strippers."
This is only what they deserve, since their movie caused me to lose sleep, and worse. It is not good to grow scared every time you see a stick. Or to know that your evil prankster friends can drive you screaming from the room just by facing the wall when you walk in. I lost a friend of mine between aisles at the grocery store last week and almost started crying. (Second idea for sequel: Three idiots get lost for six days in Costco. Find piles of socks by their heads in the morning. Freak out.)
It didn't matter to me that the whole movie could have been undone by the words "cell phone." (I know that in 1993, when the story takes place, cell phones were the size of trumpets. But Fox Mulder never goes chasing myths without one.) It didn't matter that when my hour of bug-eyed terror was over, all I could say was, "Huh? I don't get it." The coming attractions alone were enough to put me on edge.
I'm as suggestible as tofu. If you told me in a spooky voice that your cat moves around by itself, I might think it was haunted. Whatever your jackass story is, sit down and start talking, I can't wait to believe you. And while watery-eyed gullibility isn't the coolest trait, everyone has it to some degree. The reason advertising and religion work is because there are always going to be more rubes than barkers at the carnival, and I clearly qualify as one of the former.
The problem with having a great imagination is that something like "Blair Witch" can come along and then the dog walks its owner; your big brain takes off into dark places, and you can't rein it in. And really, how long can you go being afraid of trees?
With all this in mind, I sat one afternoon with little better to do than pick the scab of fear and tried to imagine what the Blair Witch would look like. I was imagining Nosferatu in a Dyan Cannon wig, performing little obsessive-compulsive stacking rituals in the woods, when all of a sudden it hit me: I dated the Blair Witch.
And you did, too.
We all have someone in our past, perhaps more than one, who makes the Blair Witch look like nothing more than a bad amateur dentist. (Those were teeth that Heather discovered wrapped in her little bundle of sticks, right?) I can now sleep at night knowing that I've already tangled with Something Wicked. We all have, and not just tangled with it, but split the electricity bill with it. The Blair Witch is a composite of all the exes who ever made any of us scream.
Fear and loathing
Think about it. Review the list of the Blair Witch's creepy traits and see if they don't correspond to those of any person to whom you have ever said, "I love you, but I just can't take this anymore."
1. Sends really weird signals.
2. The longer you're in, the harder it is to get out.
3. It makes noises at night that keep you awake.
4. Gives cheap gifts.
5. Not a housekeeper.
6. Potential, if not actual, stalker.
7. Plays mind-games. Wins.
8. It makes your friends disappear.
9. It's evil, but you're drawn to it anyway.
10. Protection would have been a good idea.
11. Everybody warned you, but did you listen? No.
12. You think with you it's going to be different.
13. You tell everyone, "I know what I'm doing," but you don't.
14. If you seek it out, you're an idiot.
See? When Sam Kinison said, "I'm not afraid of hell, I've been married," he was right. You don't have to be afraid of the Blair Witch. You know someone who made the ordeal of those three filmmakers lost in the woods look like a pillow fight.
But still, it's a significant reminder. The next time you put yourself out there looking for something, make sure you're well protected. Listen to your friends. Plan your escape routes. And for God's sake, know when to say, "That's a wrap."