It's been 15 years since a little movie made on a shoestring budget by first-time filmmakers, starring unknowns, came out of nowhere and changed the game forever. To this day, The Blair Witch Project remains one of the greatest (and most unlikely) success stories in the history of cinema, and its anniversary is making us feel nostalgic. Here are five things you need to know as we look back at the unexpected hit.
It's responsible for the found-footage subgenre of horror film. The film was shot so it looks like raw documentary footage pieced together by amateur filmmakers, capturing their lost-in-the-woods hunt for the titular witch. While it may seem commonplace today, directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez tapped into a style that felt truly groundbreaking at the time.
Most of it was improvised. The three lead actors had nothing but a 35-page outline, and various messages throughout the shoot that would tell them their next location, to work with. For the most part, they were reacting honestly to the many strange things they encountered in the woods — including those teeth.
Those teeth. For the infamous scene in which Heather (Heather Donahue) finds human teeth in a bundle of sticks, Sánchez procured them from his dentist.
The Internet marketing campaign is legendary. Although the web was still in its nascent stages, that didn't stop Myrick and Sánchez from building a basic site that would become the focus of rabid fan theorizing and speculation.
It was a one-hit wonder. No one in the cast went on to have notable careers in Hollywood, and Myrick and Sánchez never recaptured the magic of their first and most famous film.
For more on The Blair Witch Project and its influence, check out this video from the Academy's Moments That Changed the Movies series.