Oscar-nominated 2022 feature “TÁR” made a chilling statement onscreen, but the film appears to have sourced one particular audio clip from an iconic horror movie: “The Blair Witch Project,” directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez.

Heather Donahue said during an interview with Variety that “TÁR” used her final scream from “The Blair Witch Project” for a key scene of its own — and without permission. In “TÁR,” the titular composer Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is running in the woods and hears a startling cry from an unseen woman. According to Donahue, that scream was sampled from the 1999 Lionsgate film “The Blair Witch Project,” heard at the very end of the film as her character appears to die offscreen.

Donahue, who now goes by Rei Hance on social media and elsewhere but is attributed as Donahue in the Variety piece, said she alerted “The Blair Witch Project” distributor Lionsgate to the unauthorized use of her film’s audio in “TÁR.” Lionsgate then pursued a settlement with Focus Features for using the audio clip without compensation or citation.

Per Variety, “Donahue says that when she subsequently informed Lionsgate of the unauthorized use of her screaming from the climax of ‘The Blair Witch Project’ in the 2022 film ‘TÁR,’ the studio pursued a settlement without her, forcing her to seek her own financial agreement.”

IndieWire has reached out to Lionsgate, who had no comment, and Focus Features, who has yet to reply.

When “TÁR” began its awards promo rounds in fall 2022, IndieWire approached a key member of the production team inquiring about using audio from “The Blair Witch Project” in Todd Field’s film. We were told at the time that the scream heard in “TÁR” was an original creation and that the Focus Features film did not use sound from “The Blair Witch Project.” IndieWire has reached out to representatives for director Field.

The Variety piece meanwhile expanded on “The Blair Witch Project” star Joshua Leonard’s April 2024 social media post claiming he had no knowledge of Lionsgate and Blumhouse developing a ”Blair Witch Project” reboot. In that social media post, Leonard slammed the “25 years of disrespect from the folks who’ve pocketed the lion’s share (pun intended) of the profits from OUR work,” saying the studio was “icky and classless.”

Speaking to Variety, Leonard’s co-star Donahue agreed.

“I actually was looking forward to the 25th anniversary,” Donahue said. “We had booked a couple of conventions. It’s nice to hear nice things from the fans and see the guys. It was feeling very sweet for the first time in the whole history of this thing. And then — boom — comes this announcement [of the reboot], and it’s like, motherfuckers.” 

Lionsgate previously released the Adam Wingard-directed sequel “Blair Witch” in 2016 that followed the Donahue character’s younger brother. Since the original “Blair Witch” cast used their real names in the first movie, so too did the sequel. The actress said Lionsgate “made it clear” they would “use her full identity until she invoked the settlement and forced them to remove her face and last name,” as Variety reported.

“I didn’t want to be any part of it in any way whatsoever,” Donahue said of the 2016 “Blair Witch” film. “I pushed back quite hard.” She’s since stepped away from the film industry but still regularly revisits the original “Blair Witch Project” at retrospectives and fan events.

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