With Halloween almost here, it’s the perfect time to watch some scary movies. Did you know that the first installment of the Blair Witch franchise, The Blair Witch Project (1999) was primarily filmed right here in Montgomery County?
In the indie supernatural horror, three film students camp in the fictional Black Hills Forest of Burkittsville, Maryland in October of 1994 to film a documentary on the local legend of the Blair Witch. Mysteriously, the trio vanishes, leaving behind hours of footage to be discovered a year later by University of Maryland anthropology students. What the viewer witnesses is this purportedly real home video style footage.
The movie was filmed on location in only eight days, concluding on Halloween of 1997. Though the story is set in the village of Burkittsville in Frederick County, the majority of the film was shot in the woods of Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg. Some scenes were also filmed in Wheaton.
Behind its MoCo roots is Wheaton High School and Montgomery College graduate Eduardo Sánchez, who co-wrote, directed, and edited the movie with Daniel Myrick. Sánchez credits the eeriness and adventure of the Long Branch Creek behind his childhood home as inspiration for the made up Blair Witch legend.
The film is one of the most successful independent movies of all time, drawing in over $250 million worldwide and launching a popular franchise of films, television specials, books, and video games. It is widely credited for reviving the found-footage style of film, later used in hit horrors like Paranormal Activity.
A source of local pride for Gaithersburg residents, “Blair Witch Heritage Hikes” have been held in past years at Seneca Creek State Park to celebrate the history of the film. Now would be a great time to explore the park yourself and observe famous movie landmarks like “Coffin Rock” to get in the spirit of the season.