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The Blair Witch Project, which turns 20 this week, wasn’t the first thriller to present itself as the raw video recordings of a doomed camera crew. The infamous Cannibal Holocaust got there almost 20 years before it, and nearly a decade before that, The Legend Of Boggy Creek blurred the line between documentary and horror. But Blair Witch was such a phenomenon—and in its ratio of shoestring cost to enormous earnings, so profitable—that it essentially transformed a cost-efficient gimmick into a genre onto itself. In the two decades since, they’ve just kept making these terror-tilted faux-home movies, endlessly subjecting a new gaggle of camera-carrying “regular people” to the aliens, ghosts, and monsters barreling headfirst into their viewfinders.

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