In May, a movie trailer appeared for The Woods, a horror film set in, you guessed it, the woods. The video did a good job of establishing that something goes horribly wrong when a group of people head into the forest, but not much else. Horror fans were intrigued, seeing director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett attached, who’d previously worked together on You’re Next and The Guest. During San Diego Comic-Con, however, Lionsgate dropped a bomb—The Woods was the working title for Blair Witch, a sequel to the original 1999 classic. Teasing the real identity of its film was to be the first in a string of brilliant marketing strategies for the studio.

Found Footage That “Authorities Don’t Want You To See”

I remember when The Blair Witch Project was a real topic of debate—before the film was released. My friends and I scoured websites that detailed the mysterious circumstances in which this footage was found. The hikers were never seen again, their backpacks found buried . . . and like staring at a horrific train wreck, we just couldn’t look away. In keeping with the spirit of that incredibly effective campaign, Lionsgate is at it again with a conspiracy theorist who uploaded more found footage on August 31 to YouTube. The video doesn’t contain any watermarks or studio credits, but watchful eyes will notice those trademark hand prints on the Blair Witch house walls.

According to the video description:

Now that people are starting to wake up and join the search for truth, we felt it time to share one of our darkest secrets. Our friends and fellow hactivists, known as darknet666 (, originally posted this in April 2014 when they found an old dv tape in the Black Hills Forest (Frederick Watershed), Maryland. Within a month, they’d gone missing in those same woods and the video was mysteriously DELETED as part of a COVER-UP. We recently “acquired” the file from our friend’s computer. THIS IS WHAT THE AUTHORITIES DON’T WANT YOU TO SEE.

The linked blog is a simple site that doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2014 (either true or intentional to appear authentic, since this project began in 2013). The site’s “author” is obsessed with hiker disappearances in the area, often referring to a mythological creature called “Snallygaster.”

A Missing Filmmaker

Source: Facebook

Further adding to the idea that this, in fact, really happened, a Kickstarter campaign appeared that links a funded documentary from 2014. The Absence of Closure is the name of a college thesis by Lisa Arlington who planned to explore the psychological effect of disappearances on their friends and family. One of those to be interviewed was the brother of a woman who went missing in the same manner as those in The Blair Witch Project. (Although they never explicitly say this.) Ironically, the most recent post says that Lisa has been missing since May 2014. Lisa’s last post said that she was meeting none other than darknet666, the one who found and posted the aforementioned creepy footage on his site. Lisa’s profile even links to a corresponding Tumblr page, complete with realistic entries and the absence, thereof.

Lisa’s best friend posted an update in August that authorities have given up on Lisa and her family needs help. They even set up a Facebook page which asks for leads, but request that commenters refrain from conspiracy theories. The photo of Lisa looks an awful lot like actress Callie Hernandez, who plays a filmmaker named Lisa in the Blair Witch. The Facebook page even links to several “news stories” about Lisa’s disappearance.

The marketing team behind Blair Witch is doing a fantastic job leaving bread crumbs for the curious to follow. If “viral marketing” actually existed, this would be it. The found footage, the missing filmmaker—it all appears so real—I only wish I didn’t know the truth, heading to the theater once again to find out that it’s actually a sequel.

Blair Witch haunts theaters beginning September 16.

Follow H.B. Duran on Twitter