Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Heather Donahue

“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary. A year later their footage was found.”

This is how The Blair Witch Project begins.

Heather Donahue
Heather Donahue

I think enough time has passed for me to talk comfortably about this movie without feeling bad for dishing out spoilers. If you haven’t seen this movie, skip to the second-last paragraph because this Women Who Wow Wednesday post, which continues its month-long tribute to women who rock Horror, will center on Heather Donahue, one of the three students who disappeared in the woods in Maryland that year.

If you’re still with me, then you’ll know the whole movie really wasn’t more than a perfectly timed viral campaign to garner attention and load the theater seats with curious moviegoers. Three student filmmakers didn’t really disappear. In addition, what happened in the film didn’t really happen, except it was all part of the planned filming schedule scripted to provide a documentary-style backdrop to what would occur twenty years later.

What I’m referring to is today’s entertainment industry’s absolute quest to fill our minds with reality show madness. I’m positive I said that correctly without offending, don’t you think? Mind you, I have nothing against reality shows—I’m an avid fan of Hell’s Kitchen. But does every channel now have to have reality TV?

It all started with The Blair Witch Project. Thank goodness for The Walking Dead.

The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project

Nonetheless, when the movie came out, the producers made the film on a razor-thin budget of $60,000. That’s right, sixty grand. Peanuts. It went on to make $140 Million. Yes, you read that right. I’ll say it again—one-hundred-and-forty Million bucks. It was big. Some moviegoers had to leave the theater because they were getting sick from all the motion blur that was taking place.

Anyway, let’s get to the heart of this post, as you don’t need any more of my long-winded backstory.

Heather Donahue, along with Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams (their real names), travel to the woods to explore the legend of the Blair Witch. Leading the team with her straightforward attitude, Heather makes it clear she’s in charge, requesting of the makeshift crew not to produce a movie they’re shooting into a cheesy affair. As Josh fills in the first filming slate, he can’t help but ask if there should be an honorary opening of the veins to christen the first slate. Of course, he’s being facetious—little did he know what a foreshadowing his words would be.

There’s no simple way to say this. In the woods, they get lost. As time pushes forward to an inevitable conclusion, Heather attempts to keep the crew together by remaining positive in spite of the odd noises they hear each night just outside their tents.

The creepier things get, the more Heather tries to rally the guys to not lose faith. She holds on to the belief that things would eventually get better.

They don’t get better.

And as much as Heather tries to remain calm, she loses it, too, which isn’t much different than anyone else in that situation. However, she has the fortitude within herself to come back and lead the others—a trait all true great leaders possess, regardless if they win or lose in a battle.

That, in itself, is a perfect reason to study the character Heather in this film.

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Have you watched The Blair Witch Project? What do you think of Heather?