One of the biggest legacies of The Blair Witch Project remains its online, viral marketing. Now, 17 years after that phenomenon, the new Blair Witch movie is doing something similar.
In the sequel, which opens September 16, a character named James heads into the Maryland woods because he believes his sister, Heather, is still alive. (Heather was the main character of the original film.) He’s joined by several friends and a filmmaker named Lisa, who seems very interested in in James’ story.
Knowing that, a Kickstarter found by IndieWire looks to be the start of a second story. It’s for a film called The Absence of Closure, directed by Lisa Arlington, who wants her film to explore “the tragedy of ambiguous loss.” You know, like having a sister disappear in the woods. Her main subject’s name is, you guessed it, James.
The creepiest thing about the Kickstarter is that it was “fully funded” and Lisa set off to make the film, then never returned. A few clicks away is a Tumblr page with this as the final entry:
Quick update from the road: we’re now heading toward our first big location shoot in what locals call the Black Hills Forest. I’m so excited about the footage we’re going to get in these beautiful, mysterious woods. Photos and videos to come! -Lisa
That post is dated May 12, 2014. Going back to Kickstarter, there is an update from August 2016 that authorities have given up on Lisa and her family needs help. They even set up a Facebook page and the photo of Lisa looks a lot like actress Callie Hernandez, who plays the filmmaker character Lisa in the film. The page has several “news articles” about the disappearance. Here’s one:
The Frederick Daily is not a real publication, but check out the ad on the lower-right—Jessabelle was a movie released back in 2014 by Lionsgate, who just so happens to be releasing Blair Witch.
“It’s definitely intriguing,” Blair Witch producer Keith Calder told io9 when asked about the Kickstarter. “As a major Kickstarter supporter over the years, I hope those backers get what they want from the project, and that Lisa Arlington is okay.”
How deep does this social media, online, viral marketing go? Will it reveal anything about the film? We’ll have to wait and see.