[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the-blair-witch-project.jpg]]

->''"I just want to apologize to [[DisappearedDad Mike's mom, and Josh's mom, and my mom]]. I am sorry, everyone. I was very naive. I am so, so sorry. For everything that has happened. Because in spite of what Mike says now, it is my fault. Because it was my project... Everything had to be my way. And this is where we've ended up. And it's all because of me that we're here now. Hungry, cold, and hunted..."''
-->-- '''Heather''', in an [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m_lqGnLtWA oft-parodied scene]]

''The Blair Witch Project'' is a horror movie, [[FoundFootageFilms shot entirely in the style of a documentary]] {{gone horribly wrong}}. Three college students are researching "The Blair Witch", and go on an expedition into the local forest where the legend is supposed to have started. [[FromBadToWorse Things ultimately take a turn for the worse]].

Now what it's ''really'' notable for is having one of the best ViralMarketing campaigns ever, and certainly [[TropeMaker one of the first]] to demonstrate the effectiveness of internet advertising: fake online documents, footage, published dossiers, interviews, and even a couple of professional-looking television documentaries blurred the line between truth and fiction like few other campaigns had done before or since. Many were convinced that the movie was based on a true story, or even consisted of actual footage. Even more were subtly convinced that the "Blair Witch" was a real legend, as opposed to something the film-makers made up themselves.

Had a poorly received sequel which upped the MindScrew and pretty much [[FranchiseKiller killed the franchise off]]. The directors [[http://www.totalfilm.com/news/director-eduardo-sanchez-talks-blair-witch-3 are still thinking of coming back for a third]], though.
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!!''The Blair Witch Project'' contains examples of:
* AllThereInTheManual: The tie-in materials flesh out the Blair witch legend and the back story, which makes the movie ten times creepier once you realize what a lot of things ''mean''. For example, those three odd piles of stones they find around their tent one morning early on in their trip? [[spoiler:Rustin Parr kidnapped kids to his house in the woods, murdered them, and buried them in the basement before making their graves with piles of stones]]. They were doomed from the start.
* ApocalypticLog
* BloodyHandprint: They could be ink or paint, but it's hard to tell.
* BreakTheHaughty: Though friendly and reasonable, Heather is also a very overconfident and egotistical person in the beginning. As soon as she begins losing control and getting scared she is on her way to a DespairEventHorizon.
* BreakingSpeech: Josh delivers a savage one to Heather when it becomes clear how hopeless their situation is.
--> "I wanna make movies, Heather. Isn't that what we came here to do? Just make some movies? Let's make some movies. [[spoiler: Okay, here's your motivation. You're lost, you're angry in the woods. There's no one here to help you. There's a witch, and she keeps leaving shit outside your door. There's no one here to help you! She left little trinkets, you took one of them, she ran after us! There's no one here to help you! We walked for fifteen hours today and ended up in the same place! There's no one here to help you! That's your motivation! THAT'S YOUR MOTIVATION!]] ... [[TearJerker You gonna write us a happy ending, Heather?]]"
* BurnTheWitch: Or, rather, Torture and Hang the Witch, according to the [[AllThereInTheManual backstory]].
* ButtMonkey: Josh. Everything bad happens after he accidentally knocks over a pile of rocks while filming at night. For the rest of the film, he in particular is targeted by what's after them.
* CallBack: Rustin Parr would take a pair of kidnapped children into his basement, then force one to stand in a corner facing the wall while he killed the other one. [[spoiler: When Heather follows Mike into the basement of Parr's house, just before she screams and drops the camera, you see a shot of Mike standing in the corner, facing the wall.]]
* CaptainObvious: "Mike? There's something out here."
* ChewingTheScenery: Heather Donahue's apology scene. She acted so hard that you could practically see the bite marks in the camera. She sobs, screams, and shakes so realistically that her acting convinced some people it was a true life account. Her scuffles with the other two were also unscripted, as was the entire infamous apology scene.
* ClusterFBomb: Due mainly to the improvised script. It's not ''{{Casino}}'' levels of bad, but you can tell it's the favorite word of the movie.
* CoveredInGunge: Their equipment gets mysteriously slimed near the end of the movie.
* [[CreepyChild Creepy Children]]: The crew hear some little kids giggling out in the woods late at night.
* {{Creepypasta}}: The ViralMarketing for the film may well be the UrExample, building up a legend about the ghost of a witch through the power of the '90s internet.
* DaylightHorror / FreezeFrameBonus: If you look closely as Heather turns away from [[spoiler: the open bag fashioned out of Josh's shirt, containing his teeth, hair and blood,]] breathing hysterically, she pauses for three-odd seconds looking at a stick carefully placed behind her horizontally upon two small plants. [[FridgeHorror Not a METER away.]] Definitely not there when she walked behind the tent.
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters
* DizzyCam: The TropeCodifier.
* DontGoInTheWoods: Just to make it worse, once you go into the woods, ''you can't leave''.
* EldritchLocation: The normal laws of reality do not apply in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland. The best example of this being when Mike and Heather spend an entire day walking south, only to end up right back where they started.
* ExpandedUniverse: Tie-in short films, books, comics, even computer games...
* ForegoneConclusion: Everyone dies. This is, in fact, the premise of the movie.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: "We'll all look back on this and laugh heartily." At one point, Heather says: "If I die without ever walking across another stream on a log again, I'll die a happy girl". [[spoiler:She does.]]
* FoundFootageFilms: Probably the TropeCodifier
* GainaxEnding
* GhostStory: The whole movie (especially the ending) is like a scary campfire story put to film.
* GoingInCircles: ''It's the SAME LOG!''
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: The witch. Though there's been action figures, described by Website/{{Cracked}} as looking "like [[Film/TheLordOfTheRings Treebeard]] got it on with Comicbook/SwampThing".
* HorrorStruck
* AHouseDivided
* {{Improv}}: The actors were given no more than a 35-page outline of the mythology behind the plot before shooting began. All lines were improvised and nearly all the events in the film were unknown to the three actors beforehand, and were often on-camera surprises to them all.
* JitterCam
* KillEmAll
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: The original marketing for the movie claimed that it was found footage of a true story, presented to the public by the producers.
* MindScrew: Who was hunting them? Was it really a witch? What was that ending all about? We'll never know. (Unless we take a look at the extended universe.)
* {{Mockumentary}}: And several Mockumentaries were made ''about'' the mockumentary.
* MoodWhiplash: Happens a few times, the biggest example being the transition from a shot of Mike eating a dry leaf and Heather laughing at him to Heather's famous apology scene.
** Or cutting from Mike and Josh sarcastically singing the national anthem together to the three coming across the log in the stream that [[spoiler: they had already crossed hours before.]]
* NostrilShot: The apology scene. Heather aims her camera on her nose and eyes.
* NothingIsScarier: The entire movie is ''made'' of this trope.
* PoorCommunicationKills: Arguably one of the reasons why they get lost in the woods in the first place.
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: "FUCK!! YOU!!! LOG!!!!" A little easy to miss, but an underappreciated gem. The line, according to the feature-length commentary on the DVD, is actually "FUCK! YOU! [[NayTheist GOD!]]"
* RegularlyScheduledEvil: Though not operating on as tight of a schedule as some other supernatural woods creatures, the Blair Witch likes to pull some freaky shit every fifty or sixty years or so.
* RuleThirtyFour: The Bare Wench Project and The Erotic Witch Project, etc. Both of which had more sequels than the film they're spoofing.
* SpiritualSuccessor: ParanormalActivity.
* TooDumbToLive: Why don't they just follow that river? You know, the one with the log... Supernatural forces were at play. It's likely that no matter what they did, they wouldn't find a way out. [[note]]This is confirmed in the tie-games and other material. You ''will'' get turned around despite the fact you were following the map perfectly. Frankly, if those woods don't want you to leave, you're not going to be able to leave.[[/note]]
** There's also Mike ''kicking the map into the river'' out of frustration. Josh and Heather are rightfully furious and attack him in anger.
* TropeCodifier: For all those minimalist FirstPersonCamera NothingIsScarier horror movies that are so popular these days.
* UltimateEvil
* UnbuiltTrope:
** This movie spawned plenty of imitators, especially in the late 2000s (''Film/{{Cloverfield}}'', ''Film/DiaryOfTheDead'', ''Film/TheLastExorcism'', and now ''{{Unaware}}''). However, those films all had pretty high budgets, slick editing, and plenty of scary CG monster/alien/whatever effects. This film's minuscule budget, realistic location, and rambling, unscripted nature make it feel like a {{deconstruction}} of the very films it influenced.
** Heather's insistence upon filming everything even when logic suggests she put the camera down for once, a staple of found-footage horror movies, is suggested by Josh to be her way of coping with the fact that she's lost in the woods -- the screen on the camcorder all makes it feel less real. This also causes a rift between her and the rest of the group, with Mike and Josh telling her several times to turn the camera off and even attacking her over it.
** It should be noted that, even though the Horror Mockumentary genre was an unbuilt trope at the time, it is not the first to do this. ''Film/CannibalHolocaust'' was perhaps the first and ''Film/TheLastBroadcast'' was released just before this film but to less fanfare.
** To be fair, its still fairly standard practice to have the person filming the Found Footage to be portayed as either mentally ill, or a JerkAss. This happened in both the original ParanormalActivity, and {{Chronicle}}.
* TheUnreveal: During the final sequence, [[spoiler:Heather]] is heavily implied to have seen the antagonist, but [[spoiler:drops her camera before she can get a shot of it]]. We never find out the meaning behind...well, much of anything, really.
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!!The sequel contains examples of:
* CreepyChild
* DrugsAreBad: See TwistEnding below.
* {{Goth}}: Who ironically ends up being the [[OnlySaneMan only sane girl]] most of the time.
* InNameOnly
* TheKillerInMe: [[spoiler:It is revealed that the three remaining main characters have been killing off their friends over the course of the movie, who they were hallucinating as evil people.]]
* LargeHam: Dear lord, the Sheriff.
** He was one "I hates that rabbit!" away from being Yosemite Sam.
* MindScrew
* NonIndicativeTitle: Besides the faint connection to Blair Witch, there's no Book of Shadows to be seen.
* SuddenlyShouting: Possibly to parody the first film's habit of this.
* TwistEnding / TheEndingChangesEverything: [[spoiler: The three main characters that are left murdered several people.]] Can be subject to either FridgeLogic or PlotHole if you think about it too much.
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