Fittingly for a movie that’s largely devoid of color (and I don’t mean the cast, though also that), opinions on The Blair Witch Project are black or white: it’s either an influential horror masterpiece, or a snot-nosed piece of nothing about three people who deserve to get witch’d.
It’s been 15 years since directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez sent Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard to Seneca Creek State Park in Maryland to track Elly Kedward, better known as the “Blair Witch.” We were so gullible back then. The film was marketed as “found footage” (the opening text: “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.”), and many of us believed them. That false gimmick helped spread word of mouth, but once people realized it was FAAAKKEEEEE, public opinion on the film quickly soured. The Dissolve has a niece piece on the “hype and hatred.”
If there were some means of determining the most violent movie-related backlashes, however, it’s a fair bet that The Blair Witch Project would rank somewhere near the top of the list. According to the polling service CinemaScore, female viewers 35 and older gave it a D-, while male viewers in the same age bracket awarded it a rare F. Move down to the 21-34 group, and it managed a C+, which is still basically “Thanks for wasting my time.” Even teenagers, surely the target audience, could muster only a lukewarm B. (Via)
Basically, people hate feeling like suckers, and they were suckered by The Blair Witch Project (f*ckin’ Josh, man). A decade and a half later, though, and once removed from the hype and the backlash and the incessant parodies, the criticisms have largely faded; we’ve moved on to hating other things, like Paranormal Activity 782 and every other movie Blair Witch accidentally inspired. In fact, it’s rarely mentioned anymore, except when talking about how much money it made. Spoiler: A LOT ($248 million on a $25,000 budget). That usually means good things for the cast. Usually. Here’s what everyone in Blair Witch has been up to since 1999.
Michael C. Williams: Almost-Omar Little’s first post-Blair Witch role was on Law & Order, because it’s a legal requirement that every actor from New York has to appear on at least one Dick Wolf show. He was also in single episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Without a Trace. From an interview Williams did in 2009, when he was “moving furniture to pay the bills”:
Williams is concentrating on his “backup plan” by getting a master’s degree in school counseling and guidance at the College of New Rochelle. He’s also teaching acting to kids, both privately and at the Jacob Burns Film Center’s new Media Arts Lab. (Via)
He’s very forthcoming on how much he made from his would-be breakthrough, telling the reporter he “ended up with about $300,000 over the course of several years.”
Joshua Leonard: Leonard has become an in-demand character actor, showing up in everything from Men of Honor, The Shaggy Dog, and the widely praised Humpday to CSI: Miami, Hung, and even True Detective, where he played biker Mitch. This year alone, his IMDb lists 11 roles; he’s a writer, director, and acting teacher, too. He’s not dead.
Heather Donahue: The most widely recognized actor in the film, Donahue also received the most criticism: she won the Razzie for Worst Actress in 1999. She’s done OK for herself, though: she was in an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Charlie slept with her), and now she grows and smokes a ton of pot, as documented in her book Growgirl.
Growgirl was your first book, and you’re still quite young. Do you plan to continue to work mostly in personal nonfiction, or are you going to transition to other forms of writing?
I’m working on a novel called Bounds right now. It’s an erotic black comedy about a trio of cancer researchers. The theme is love and other consumptive malignancies. (Via)
Wanna be in her pilot for a show called Grass Valley? Here you go.
She’s so stoned, you guys.