The Heather Donahue Project, The Yellow King, FRIDAY THE 13th And More!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: The Heather Donahue Project
- Image of the Week: The King In Yellow
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: Guess Who’s Back?
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
The Heather Donahue Project
By Lex Briscuso
Women in horror have a lot to prove. Especially as filmmakers, we’re scrutinized with a microscope, often damned if we do and damned if we don’t. In The Blair Witch Project, Heather Donahue juggles the pressures of maintaining leadership in the face of mounting dread with her creative responsibilities to her subject. Though the road is rocky, to say the least, her choices resonate with me. They’re choices I would have made.
A promising film student, Heather recruits two peers, Josh Leonard and Mike Williams, to be her documentary crew as she sets out to shed light on the legend of the Blair Witch. It’s steeped in murder and mystery, but Heather has a command of the folklore and her position as director from the jump. When she tells her crew upfront she plans to “avoid any cheese” in her film, that the legend itself is “unsettling enough,” it echoes all the instances I’ve had to justify my vision just one more time.
20 minutes into the footage, the guys are already ragging on her for getting them lost in the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland, a concept that becomes the focal point of their interpersonal drama as the group starts to realize what they’re in for. It’s even implied Heather never physically scouted out the shooting locations. But she doesn’t waver in her dedication to her process, even after being questioned time and time again.
Been there, dealt with that.
It’s Heather’s job to be as true to the legend as she can be, and to show it all. She doesn’t take the task lightly and, in doing so, it’s clear her demise is a direct result of her drive. She insists on documenting menial moments between the trio, turning her documentary into a character study as much as a search for the truth. She openly admits to being hungry for footage first, scared second. She demands they take the camera with them when things start going sideways, which becomes a potential hindrance.
Shortly before he disappears at the height of the group’s terror, Josh squares up with Heather from behind the camera. He takes her spot, using it to mock her desperation to craft the perfect film. Her plea is heartbreakingly familiar: “It’s all I have left, OK?”
To see her put together the pieces of a puzzle, weaving together fragments of a narrative that’s been in front of her face this whole time, turns my stomach. When I close my eyes, I can picture myself giving that infamous final speech. I think about how it must have felt to figure out you were the tragic hero all along, your fate sealed on arrival. “It’s all because of me that we’re here now — hungry and cold and hunted,” she admits to the camera before admitting to herself, “I’m going to die out here.”
I can hear myself saying those words, too, under the crashing realization of all the decisions that led to this point.
Heather accepts her own ending, if only as a fitting finale to a pilgrimage she forced herself to go on in the name of creation.
I’d do the same thing.
Lex Briscuso is a film critic, poet, journalist, and radio host living in Brooklyn. You can find her slinging celeb gossip and entertainment coverage over at In Touch Weekly and Life & Style. Her radio show, Your Niche Is Dead, airs live Mondays 4-6pm on kpiss.fm.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
The King In Yellow
Artist Derek Vukusich uses art to interpret his experience with epilepsy, rendering horrifically beautiful imagery. This particular piece, Hastur, depicts the King in Yellow himself from the Cthulu Mythos.
You may want to rethink going to the public pool this summer. New members can try the platform free for 30 days when they sign up online with promo code: SHUTIN
POSSESSOR, THE GUEST AND MORE
Brandon Cronenberg’s sophomore feature, Possessor, got a new trailer this week and it’s giving us those trademark familial body horror vibes.
The Atlantic theorizes why low-budget horror is dominating the box office during the pandemic.
El Gigante and Into The Dark: Culture Shock director Gigi Saul Guerrero showed her parents the original Old Boy, and their reaction to the big reveal was definitely all of us.
This article on The Guest talks about the damage of America’s “forever war” and the havoc wreaked on the families left behind.
Mike Tyson’s gearing up to fight a shark (ya, you read that right) in a special during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week called Tyson Vs. Jaws: Rumble On The Reef.
Learn more about Isolation, the horror anthology that was conceived and shot entirely in quarantine with only the resources available to each filmmaker when lockdown began.
This piece from The Guardian explores the many ways horror creeps into Black drama in film and television, and how this phenomenon is perpetuated by generations of poor representation.
Film School Rejects ranked their 10 favorite horror films of the year (so far), and you may be surprised by their picks.
Dig into the history of Mexican horror comic books in this extensive essay.
25 Years Later looks at the bodily horror of relationships through The Thing, Annihilation, and Michel Fiffe’s graphic novel, Panorama.
These 10 horror movies where everyone dies make the perfect case for a bleak ending being the best one.
THINGS WE LOVE
Guess Who’s Back?
Scream Factory is releasing the ultimate Friday the 13th box set complete with every single film in the franchise including Jason X, Freddy vs Jason, and the Friday remake from 2009.