Over the course of 3 Blair Witch films, seldom has the witch made contact. As a result, debates are raging online: What exactly is the Blair Witch?
Here are a few theories...
- She's a witch. A ghost witch.
The easiest and most obvious answer. With good reason. As a witch, who knows the true extent of her powers? She could alter the terrain causing the BWP and BW characters to walk in endless circles. She could manifest the piles of rocks and voodoo stick men. Heck, since she's been dead for so long, she could be invisible among them! Watching at all times, only interfering when necessary. In Blair Witch 2016 we even experience electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) with James, Peter, and their walkie-talkies. She makes contact through modern technology, and modern technology is altered by her mere presence. This option satisfies most of what happens in the first and second movies (though I'm still partial to my theory of the true killer of The Blair Witch Project), but to me it doesn't explain everything. Why does she sometimes have a physical form? We hear her lumbering around, and yet she's also able to sneak up beside your tent? And yes: why is she mimicking the MO of Rustin Parr? Sure, he may have been told by her what to do, but there's nothing to suggest that Elly Kedward forced people to stand in the corner!
- She is an alien.
Hear me out. In Blair Witch 2016, the slow burn leading up to the attacks include scenes of James, Lisa, Peter, and Ashley experiencing lost time. Anyone whose seen even just the first episode of The X-Files knows that a clear sign you've been abducted by aliens is discovering that hours or days have gone by in the blink of an eye. What happened to you during the missing time? Who knows! Toward the end of the movie, James and Lisa also experience a brilliant white light emanating from outside, calling to mind images of UFO's landing. I've heard some people say it might be daylight occurring rapidly, which would explain why they're lost in a perpetual night, but that light doesn't resemble a sunrise or sunset, it is stark white. Otherworldly. Could it be that James and co. were abducted when they experienced lost time, and now they're on a totally different planet? Maybe even inside some gargantuan ship! Don't laugh, they plant clues!
- She is a wendigo.
Personally, I wasn't familiar with the story of the wendigo until I played last year's horror video game Until Dawn, in which we encounter a monster with elongated limbs, gaunt/pale features, who has the ability to mimic voices. Sound familiar? In The Blair Witch Project, everything concludes in that old abandoned house, with the sounds of Josh screaming and Mike attempting to run to his rescue. However, we all know that Josh is dead, because Heather opened the bundle of twigs containing his teeth and other organs. Heather kept this information to herself though, which meant the wendigo was able to trick Mike. In Blair Witch 2016, we catch pretty clear glimpses of "the witch," and we can make out her long limbs and pale skin which the locals explain with the myth that Elly Kedward (said to be the Blair Witch herself) having been hung with rocks tied to her arms and limbs, stretching her on a makeshift rack. Wendigos are also said to be cannibalistic. Could that be why she so violently takes people? We know she doesn't only attack the living, as Peter, Talia, and Ashley were seemingly dead when she came and took them. She has to eat. (BONUS THEORY: With Lane trapped in the woods for perhaps years, wouldn't he have to eat as well? I didn't see any animals in those woods, but being untethered from time, he could theoretically revisit James and Lisa's camp to find "food.") Of course, this doesn't explain the trippy circular paths that bring you back to where you started...
Which brings us to...
- She is all of the above and more! By which I mean: she doesn't exist.
Here we go:
The above theories each explain SOME of what we've seen in the movies, but not ALL of it. I think it's possible that Elly Kedward was just one in a long line of people enchanted by the woods, and that the woods are something like The Overlook Hotel in The Shining. It's packed with a multitude of monsters, each up to it's own business. Sure, Elly may be in there, but then so is Rustin Parr. So is a wendigo. The characters of The Blair Witch Project, Book of Shadows, and Blair Witch 2016 have encountered several different entities all under the guise of it being the work of one: the witch. I chalk it up to the power of myth. For example: lets say there is a wendigo in the woods. Someone saw it's long limbs and lived to tell the tale. It was eventually woven into the story of the Blair Witch by adding to the story the idea of her limbs being stretched by rocks hung from her arms and legs. The legend evolved. It grew to cover more of what is out there.
The entire Blair Witch franchise starts with the power of folklore: literal interviews with townies each giving their own version of whats in the woods. It's the opportunity to present the legend of the witch on film that gets Heather, Josh, and Mike out there, but what they find defies what they think the witch does. As viewers we're left trying to interpret what we saw. We saw something too complicated for any one story. Or, at least, too complicated for the stories the Burkitsville locals share. Maybe there was a "Blair Witch" at some point in history, but I don't think you can point to her as the cause of everything we see. Essentially "The Blair Witch" is not one person, but several paranormal entities contributing to one legend!
The Blair Witch franchise is only about the witch in the sense that it's about how limited we are to understand the evil. It's a chimera, it's eldritch horror, it's incomprehensible. Sure, maybe it's one ancient creature, maybe it's the woods itself, or maybe it's a hoarde of beasts, and which ever one finds you first gives you another piece of the puzzle. Regardless, I think it's clear that The Blair Witch franchise is content to leave everything up to interpretation, ensuring that people will continue to debate the truth forever.
What do you think? Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments below! I'd love to hear your reasons for why a theory does or doesn't work, and I hope you share a theory I've never even considered!