The ending of the original Blair Witch Project is a memorable example of how much more powerful a horror movie can be when it leaves things up to the audience’s imagination, but it sounds like co-directors Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez almost went with something a lot more gruesome and showy than the simple, ominous shot of Mike facing a wall in the corner of a spooky room. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Myrick and Sanchez explain that they had always intended for the movie to end with a “what-the-fuck moment,” but they didn’t want to actually show somebody in a witch costume killing the doomed filmmakers. Also, they didn’t have any money, so they came up with the “guy standing in a corner” idea—which didn’t require any special effects—just before filming it.
When distribution company Artisan picked up the movie, though, it decided that Myrick and Sanchez needed to come up with “something more definitive” so audiences wouldn’t be confused. So, even though most of the film crew had been killed by a witch (as seen in the finished documentary), Myrick and Sanchez had to go back into the woods and film a bunch of different endings. One had Mike hanging from a noose, another had him crucified on one of those wooden stick men, but the directors still preferred their original concept.
In an attempt to convince Artisan to let them keep it, they went back and filmed a new interview scene that added context to the “standing in a corner” thing by explaining that Rustin Parr, a serial killer who murdered children at the behest of the Blair Witch, would make his victims stand in the corner before killing them. That made it a payoff to some spooky foreshadowing from earlier in the movie, so it was just as scary but not quite as confusing. Artisan still wasn’t crazy about it, but they kept the original ending and ensured that some movie fans will now forever be scared by people facing the wall in the corner of a darkened room.