May 3, 2008 / 11:39 AM / 12 years ago

"Blair Witch" director aims to repeat suspense hit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nine years after the low-cost horror film “The Blair Witch Project” became a hugely profitable cult phenomenon, its co-director hopes to recapture some of that excitement with his new thriller, “The Objective.”

“I want people to appreciate “Blair Witch” for what it was but at the same time give whatever else I do at least a fighting chance and say, ‘OK, this guy can do more than just one movie, he can do more than just Blair Witch,’” Daniel Myrick, told Reuters in a recent interview.

“The Objective,” which tells the story of a CIA officer and special forces crew on a mission in the Afghanistan mountains confronted by supernatural threats, premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film festival and is seeking a distributor.

In some ways, it mirrors “Blair Witch,” including the general narrative of a team of characters lost and forced to deal with the unknown, as well as using “first-person” filming techniques to add to suspense, said Myrick, 44.

“It’s similar in that you have a group of people in a situation they don’t quite understand,” he said. “It’s a kind of a ghost story, psychological thriller.”

But he said “The Objective,” shot in Morocco, was “a more cinematic film in a lot of ways, traditionally, than ‘Blair Witch,’” which deliberately used shaky, amateur footage to tell the story of three young filmmakers lost in the woods where they were terrorized by an unseen presence.

While “The Objective” cost less than $5 million to make, modest by Hollywood standards, its budget was considerably higher than the $35,000 and credit cards used to finance “The Blair Witch Project,” which went on to make $250 million worldwide.

After his 1999 success, Myrick turned down offers to make the sequel and direct other thrillers. Several of his projects were released straight to video.

“I am in no rush to make that big Hollywood movie and give up that control and make something I am not proud of,” he said, adding he preferred to make independent films that usually guarantee more creative control.

“Unfortunately, for better or worse, those films tend to be a little more risky and a tough sell to Hollywood at times,” he said.

While the word about “Blair Witch” spread through an innovative Internet marketing strategy, “The Objective” gained buzz for using online Web auditions and casting an actor from Australia straight from his online audition.

Myrick said he was hopeful the buzz would produce big audiences.

At least one early reviewer was not so hopeful. “This supernatural thriller is unlikely to achieve the phenomenal success of its fabled predecessor,” Variety said in its review.

Editing by Michelle Nichols and Peter Cooney

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