The Blair Witch Project (1999) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

  • In search of a local legend, three bold amateur documentarians--director, Heather; cameraman, Josh; sound recorder, Mike--hike into Burkittsville's gloomy Black Hills Forest to find a shadow: the fabled Blair Witch. Now, one long year later--after that fateful October of 1994--there's still no sign of the student filmmakers, apart from the raw footage they left behind. Who knows what truly happened during their creepy five-day journey into the mouth of madness? Was there, indeed, an intangible supernatural presence in the dark woods that led to the team's disappearance? Either way, the missing trio must have seen something. Could the nightmarish myth be real?

  • Three film students travel to Maryland to make a student film about a local urban legend... The Blair Witch. The three went into the woods on a two day hike to find the Blair Witch, and never came back. One year later, the students film and video were found in the woods. The footage was compiled and made into a movie. The Blair Witch Project.

  • Heather Donahue, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard, student filmmakers, set out to shoot a documentary about a local legend, the Blair Witch. In the forests near Burkittsville, Maryland, many children have vanished in the 1940s and people still avoid going too deep into the woods. So, the party sets out to look for facts that prove the legend, equipped only with two cameras and a little hiking gear. First, they find little piles of stone that must have been arranged artificially, later, they have to admit to be lost in the woods. Eerie sounds at night and more piles of stones in places where they have not been before cause the already desperate group to panic. And one night, days after they should have been back home, Josh disappears completely. Only what has been recorded and filmed with the cameras is found a year later and shows what happened in the woods.

  • Three film students set out into the Black Hills Forest to make a documentary on the legendary Blair Witch. Armed with a 16mm camera, a Hi8 video camera, and a DAT recorder, every step, word and sound is captured. After wandering around the Black Hills Forest, Heather, Josh, and Mike are cold, lost and hunted. Finally, one night after the last ray of light had left the forest black, they were never to be seen again. One year later, a bag full of film cans, DAT tapes, and video tapes were found. The behind the scenes, video footage and the film, are cut together, and this is..."The Blair Witch Project."


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Three film students go to Burkittsville, Maryland to make a documentary on the Blair Witch legend. The director is Heather Donahue (Heather Donahue), her main cameraman is Joshua Leonard (Joshua Leonard) and Michael Williams (Michael C. Williams) is the sound crew. The three go missing, but a year later their footage is found in a bag inexplicably buried under an abandoned 100-year-old house.

    According to legend, the Blair Witch is the ghost of Elly Kedward of the late 1700s, whom several children accused of luring them into her home to draw blood from them. Kedward is found guilty of witchcraft, banished from the village during a particularly harsh winter, and presumed dead. By midwinter, all of Kedward's accusers, along with half of the town's children, vanish. Fearing a curse, the townspeople flee Blair and vow never to utter Elly Kedward's name again.

    In 1825, 11 witnesses testify to seeing a pale woman's hand reach up and pull ten-year-old Eileen Treacle into Tappy East Creek. Her body is never recovered, and for thirteen days after the drowning the creek is clogged with oily bundles of sticks. In 1886, eight-year-old Robin Weaver is reported missing and search parties are dispatched. Although Weaver returns, one of the search parties does not. Their bodies are found weeks later at Coffin Rock tied together at the arms and legs and disemboweled. In 1941, starting with Emily Hollands, a total of seven children are abducted from the area surrounding Burkittsville. A hermit named Rustin Parr walks into a local market and tells the people there that he is "finally finished." After the police hike for four hours to his secluded house in the woods, they find the bodies of seven missing children in the cellar. Each child has been ritualistically murdered and disemboweled. Parr admits to everything in detail, telling authorities that he did it for "an old woman ghost" who occupied the woods near his house. He is quickly convicted and hanged.

    The three filmmakers interview the "country bumpkin" types of Burkittsville, who seem equally enjoying being on camera and mystified as to why they'd want to make this film. Heather interviews Mary Brown (Patricia DeCou), an elderly and quite insane woman who has lived in the area all her life who claims to have seen the Blair Witch one day near Tappy Creek in the form of a hairy, half-human, half-animal beast. Two anglers tell Heather that Coffin Rock is less than 20 minutes from town, and the three decide to make the woods of the Blair Witch the centerpiece of their film.

    After enjoying a drunken night at their motel, Heather, Josh, and Mike park and go into the woods with a map of the logging trail. After hiking a few miles into woods that seem far larger than they'd appeared from the outside, they film the creek where the Coffin Rock massacre occurred. Satisfied with their footage, the three set up their tent when it starts to rain. They remain in high spirits through the night, despite Mike's flatulence. The next morning, Joshua claims he heard strange noises during the night, one of them he's determined was cackling.

    Consulting their map, the team decide to press on further into the woods in search of an old graveyard, but Josh and Mike are a little concerned about the accuracy of Heather's map reading, having gotten them a bit lost the previous day. They set off, still in high spirits, kidding with each other and generally enjoying their weekend. While Heather remains confident that they are on the right trail and that they will reach the graveyard in an hour and a half, it soon becomes clear that they are in fact lost, and tensions begin to mount, both men resenting that Heather continues to film while they're lost. They press on, braving an arduous river crossing over a log bridge. They soon come across a clearing where they find strange piles of rocks neatly stacked on the ground. Heather recalls something that Mary Brown had said about a pile of rocks in the Bible, but can't remember exactly what it is. They find seven piles of stones in all.

    That night, they build a fire and cook food, some of the tensions having dissipated a little. During the night, Heather takes them back to the rocks to film more footage, and one of them knocks over a pile of rocks. Later still, the trio hears strange noises from the woods and they set off to investigate. Something is clearly moving around them, but Mike refuses to leave the tent to help look for it. Next morning, it's raining harder than ever and the trio discuss the events of the night before. Josh suggests that the noises were caused by local rednecks and Mike agrees, worrying that if someone was prepared to come this far out into the woods just to spook them, they must be seriously disturbed.

    The group decides to head back for the car, Heather continuing to insist that she knows where they're going. As the day progresses and they fail to find their way back to the car, tensions again start to run high and, as the day turns into evening, Heather suggests that they camp for the night. Mike is starting to get increasingly stressed by their predicament, though Heather maintains that they aren't far from where they left the car.

    That night, they are again disturbed by strange noises around them in the dark. They again go outside to see what's causing it, and hear what seems to be trees being knocked over and other strange sounds. Josh suggests that it's probably deer, but Heather isn't so sure, noting that "it's on all sides of us" and that the sounds are like footsteps.

    Next morning, they find three piles of rocks that have mysteriously appeared overnight surrounding their tent. Heather films them, to the dismay of Mike and Josh, who just want to get home. But things are about to get worse: The map has disappeared. While it had been in Heather's trousers the night before, it's gone now, and the two men deny having seen it. They are now completely lost and have no way of finding their way back to the car. Josh implies that Heather has deliberately lost or hidden it to keep them all in the woods to complete her movies. Unwilling to give up, the trio follow the creek, hoping that it will eventually lead them somewhere. Josh reasons that someone will start looking for them when they don't return.

    They come to a river which again proves difficult to cross, and already-frayed tempers are stretched almost to the breaking point, with Mike now behaving even less rationally than ever. Heather is angry that the men are laughing at her when her shoes become waterlogged, and a near-hysterical Mike admits that he threw the map into the creek as he felt it was useless. Mike and Josh nearly come to blows and Heather screams abuse at Mike, becoming even more hysterical than him. The relationship between the three is now completely broken down, and they waste time arguing over who is going to hold the compass and apportioning blame. Eventually, after continuing south for a while, Mike and Josh simply stop and refuse to go any further. But in a nearby clearing, Mike finds strange stick figures hanging from trees, dozens of them, some in the shapes of strange runic symbols, others clearly meant to represent human forms. Heather films the totems for a while before Mike and Josh demand that they leave the area. Mike screams hysterically for help, reasoning that rednecks have followed them and fashioned the figures.

    That night, they decide not to light a fire and to extinguish all lights in the hope that it won't give away their position and hence won't attract attention, yet they are again all woken by strange sounds, including what appears to a baby screaming. As they are listening, their tent starts shaking. All three flee into the night, still filming everything as they go; they spend the rest of the night cowering together in the darkness.

    At daybreak they return to the tent, where Josh finds that all of his belongings have been scattered around the clearing and are covered with a strange, slimy substance. They also find another of the wooden stick figures fashioned from twigs and vines. Finally sickened by her insistent filming of everything, Mike attacks Heather and tries to get her precious video camera away from her.

    They again press on and Josh seems to be on the verge of losing it, becoming moody and depressed, wandering off to sit on his own. Mike and Heather forge an uncomfortable alliance, trying to hold the group together. Mike argues that whatever is stalking them will return and that they must keep moving, while Heather maintains that it's simply impossible for someone to simply vanish "in America". Later, they come to a river and, panic-stricken, realize that it's the same river they struggled across the previous day, i.e., they've been going around in circles. Mike rushes off ranting angrily while Heather collapses in tears. They're now desperate and have no idea where they should go; they've been heading south all day and they've simply ended up where they started from and Heather has no explanation for it. Josh's anger and frustration finally boils over and, turning the camera on Heather, taunts her about her ambition and obsession that has led to them being lost, cold, and hungry. Mike tries to calm things down, but Josh persists and torments Heather until she again breaks down in tears.

    Night falls again and they are forced to sleep in pretty much the same place as they slept the night before. They're now too tired and emotional to fight any more, and as they discuss the food they miss the most, Heather repairs a hole in Mike's jeans.

    Next morning, Heather and Mike wake to find that Josh has vanished. They search the area around the campsite, but there's no sign of him. Mike believes that Josh has simply gone off for some time alone, but even after they've packed up and broken down the tent, there's no sign of him. Totally demoralized and very disturbed, Heather and Mike move on, trying to keep each others spirits up. Night again falls and they again wake to strange noises in the woods, including what seem to be Josh's agonized screams. They stumble around in the dark looking for him, but there's no sign of him and it's impossible to tell which direction the screaming is coming from.

    At daybreak, Heather finds a strange bundle of sticks held together with twine on the ground outside the tent, which she nervously picks up and tosses away. Heather and Mike are now just too exhausted to move on, and spend the rest of the morning comforting each other. Later, Heather finds another of the bundles of twigs, this time with something inside. She opens it and finds a piece of the fabric from Josh's shirt wrapped around hair, an unidentifiable piece of viscera, and what appears to be teeth, all bloodied. Heather breaks into hysterics, rushes to the nearby stream and washes her hands before putting on her pack and joining Mike on another fruitless hike through the woods. Their meanderings are becoming ever more random and directionless as their mental states rapidly collapse. Mike is even driven to eating dry leaves to help alleviate his hunger.

    That night, Heather videotapes a confessional, apologizing to her mother and to Mike and Josh's parents for her naivety and accepting full blame for what has happened on the ill-fated expedition. She realizes that her dogmatism and pig-headedness are what has led them to where they are. Later in the dead of night, they again hear Josh's voice, closer this time, pleading for someone to help him, and they abandon the tent to go in search of him.

    Following Josh's voice, Heather and Mike find a derelict house in a clearing and go inside, where they see runic symbols on the wall next to child-sized hand prints. Josh's voice seems to be coming from somewhere inside the house, and Mike rushes upstairs in search of Josh. Mike then realizes that the voice is now in fact coming from the basement, and rushes down the steps. Suddenly, Mike is rendered silent and the camera falls. A hysterical Heather follows and sees Mike in the corner of the room, face against the wall. Suddenly Heather's camera is knocked down and she too is rendered silent. The film runs for a few seconds. then dies.

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