The Blair Witch Project started the handheld movie movement, while Paranormal Activity has taken the genre to the next level. Both movies operate as true stories and create a feeling of reality that audiences don’t want to believe to be true—but sort of do. Both are terrifying and absolutely deserve to be on this list. Being that I’m from an island in the Northwest, where I’m surrounded by woods on all sides (I even had to go to Wilderness Survival Camp for school in 6th grade), The Blair Witch Project scared the heebie jeebies out of me. In the movie three student filmmakers travel to the sleepy town of Burkittesville, MD, to follow their instincts on some local folklore. After rumors tell of a ghost woman who snatches up people, the teens set out into the woods with their video cameras, set to document their experiences with The Blair Witch. In Paranormal Activity, a young couple move into a new house, and the boyfriend sets up a camera to film them while they’re sleeping. After viewing the tapes, they realize there’s a lot more going on at night than just sleep.
Fun & Freaky Facts:
• The Blair Witch had some of the most creative marketing for a movie known to date. To get moviegoers to fill theaters, they created fake interviews with townspeople and newspaper stories about the disappearances, so that people would think that what they were seeing was actually real.
• To an extent, the actors’ reactions to what was happening were real in The Blair Witch Project. The actors were only given a brief history of the mythology behind the legend, all lines were improvised and the events that happened were unknown to them before they transpired.
• Before Blair Witch was released, the three main actors were listed as “missing or presumed dead” on the web.
• Blair Witch cost $22,000 to make and made $240.5 million.
• The original ending to Paranormal Activity was changed at the suggestion of Steven Spielberg.
• Paranormal Activity was filmed for $15,000 and made $9.1 million in its first week. At the time, it became the highest-grossing weekend ever for a movie playing at less than 200 theaters.
• Paranormal Activity was filmed in writer/director Oren Peli’s own home.
• Oren got the idea for Paranormal Activity from an experience he had late one night. As he was sleeping, a box of detergent fell off the shelf inexplicably; it had been pushed too far back for it to just tilt and fall.