Back in 2012, a strange video showed up online. It was called “The Bitterroot Footage,” and even before the video itself appeared, an account cropped up describing how it had been “discovered.”
According to the story, a student at a New York University named Chad bought an odd collection of stuff from a guy named Chris on Craigslist. Among other items, he got a locked wooden box which, when jimmied open with a screwdriver, contained a bunch of old pictures with the word “bitterroot” hand-written on the backs, as well as a reel of 8mm film.
Chad and a film school friend named Dario eventually repaired the film using splicing tape, and found an 8mm projector on eBay that allowed them to watch it. The resulting video posted online is supposedly just a five minute clip of the 12-minute-long footage.
The video is silent, or nearly so. According to the YouTube video published on May 12, 2012, the only sound you can hear is the projector—though naysayers claim sound effects have been added.
It opens with some shots of the woods, in which there is an old, ruined building. A man in a long cloak is seen approaching the building. There are several shots of the interior of the building, including a room where the man sits in an oddly ornate chair, poking at something in a pot. At his feet is a bound cloth bag, sure to make most viewers shudder, especially when the bag twitches.
The man gets up and leaves, and the camera goes deeper into the room. According to Chad, “the things that I saw on the footage that were in the room, made me choke on vomit. There was what looked a lot like old rotting bodies that you could see in these glass little boxes or chambers.” What is actually shown in the video looks more like the incubators used in neonatal intensive care units, with what could be a dead baby inside.
From there, the film once again follows the man into the woods, where he tosses a smaller sack into a shallow ditch and then walks away. The camera approaches the bag, and the cameraman pokes at it with a stick before opening it to reveal what appears to be a severed human head, which according again to Chad “was horribly battered…”
The footage caused quite a stir online. YouTube commenters and posters on CreepyPasta forums raised a range of questions regarding its authenticity and the veracity of Chad’s story. Several accounts have even pointed out that Chad’s film school friend “Dario” could well be a nod to Italian horror auteur Dario Argento—a director known for his unsettling, first-person POV camera work. Most thought it was some sort of viral marketing for a forthcoming found footage horror movie, like The Blair Witch Project or The Poughkeepsie Tapes. Others compared its style to the 1990 experimental cult film Begotten by E. Elias Merhige.
The problem with the viral marketing theory is that the Bitterroot Footage surfaced over four years ago, and no feature film has yet materialized. Was it, in fact, guerilla marketing for a film that died somewhere in pre-production? Or is it, as one YouTube commenter maintains, “witch craft”?
Whatever its true origins or purpose, there’s no denying that the footage makes for a creepy watch. Give it a look and judge for yourself …