Is it real? Have you seen it? Is it the scariest movie ever? No, seriously, is it real? Starting as the object of buzz at the Sundance Film Festival, The Blair Witch Project, in limited release as of July 14, is now a raging phenomenon on the Internet, with countless online discussion groups, a webring thick in theories, and even an inspired spoof, The Blair Warner Project (http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Lounge/ 3027/Blair.html), which has the Facts of Life debutante cursing her classmates with bad home perms. The really spooky thing? Most of the people spouting so vociferously online have yet to see the horror indie, which poses as the ”recovered documentary” of filmmakers who disappeared in search of a legendary crone.
That’s fine by producer Haxan Films (http://www.haxan.com) and distributor Artisan Entertainment (which runs http://www.blairwitch.com). They jump-started the online action with their official — and extremely creepy — sites, hoping to ignite interest. ”We thought this was the perfect type of movie that could really develop a cult following on the Internet,” says Artisan’s marketing chief, John Hegeman, ”[and] really in a positive way affect our box office.” Even if the buzz doesn’t translate into bucks, there’s one happy ending: Abigail Marceluk and Eric Alan Ivins, who launched the Blair Witch Project Fanatic’s Guide (tbwp.freeservers.com) after meeting in a Blair Witch chat room, are happily long-distance dating. ”We’re the first Blair Witch couple,” says Marceluk. Oh, that old black magic.