Why the ‘Blair Witch’ Remake Filled Heather Donahue With Vast 'Dread'

After the success of The Blair Witch Project in 1999, it’s no surprise that sequels and remakes followed. Though many fans of the original horror film celebrated news of later installments, one of the film’s actors was not happy to hear the news. Heather Donahue, the star of the 1999 film, said the news initially alarmed her. She explained the way she feels about the film today.

Heather Donahue’s missing posters made some worry ‘The Blair Witch Project’ was real

The Blair Witch Project’s marketing aimed to sow uncertainty. The word-of-mouth campaign included missing person’s posters for the actors, fake news stories, and a website that appeared to be designed by the characters. Audiences went into the theatre unsure if they were watching real found footage.

The campaign was so successful that family acquaintances sent Donahue’s mother sympathy cards.

“[The marketing] was definitely effective,” Donahue told Paper Magazine. “It was very hard as a young actress where you did something where you were really proud of your work and you feel like you did a really good job, and then you’re kind of in this really stuck situation where you’re an overnight success, but you’re dead.” She added, “It even said on my IMDb page that I was dead. It said Heather Donahue: Deceased.”

News of 2016’s ‘Blair Witch’ filled her with dread

The Blair Witch Project was Donahue’s first major role, but she said the film’s release made her life difficult. People thought she was dead, which wasn’t ideal for her career. In addition, she won a Razzie for Worst Actress, making her feel as though her big break may actually be a curse.

In 2007, Donahue stepped away from acting to work as a writer and producer. Though she established a very different life from the one immediately post-Blair Witch, the news of the 2016 remake upset her. 

“When I first heard there was going to be a new one, I was initially filled with a nameless dread,” she told GQ. “Big, vast, nameless dread. It was so nice to have 16 years go by and not have my…snot flood be the first thing that came to mind when people saw me or spoke to me.”

She’s referring to the scene from the movie where her character films her goodbye. The close-up shot of her face is one of the film’s most iconic images.

When Jason Constantine, the producer of 2016’s Blair Witch, offered Donahue a role in the movie, she declined. She wanted to minimize her association with the film, and Constantine, though surprised, obliged. 

Heather Donahue still has some fondness for the movies

Though Donahue wants to keep her distance from the Blair Witch films, she still appreciates the time she spent working on the original.

“People always ask if I was scared. People never ask, ‘Was that one of the most fun things you have ever done?’ The answer is always yes, and that is totally true. It was such a sweet ride,” she told Paper Magazine. 

In addition, despite the initial dread surrounding the 2016 remake, Donahue saw the film — and she loved it.

“I’ve gotta tell you: I think it’s better than the original,” she told GQ. “I loved it. It’s so good. It’s so creepy. I really… I actually can’t believe how much I loved it.”

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