Book of Shadows:Blair Witch 2

View Date: October 28th, 2000

Cast :

Kim Director   Kim Director
Jeffrey Donovan   Jeffrey Donovan
Erica Leerhsen   Erica Leerhsen
Tristine Skyler   Tristen Skylar
Stephen Barker Turner   Stephen Turner

Writers: Joe Berlinger and Dick Beebe

Director: Joe Berlinger

Where have you gone Alfred Hitchcock? (sung to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson”

In my review of the original Blair Witch, I stated that part of its mastery came from its ability to scare us from the inside, by effectively capturing that fear of the unknown, and that which we cannot see.  Apparently, Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick, who have stepped back to executive producers but still have some say on this film, forgot that factor during the making and production of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.  Gone is the chilling creepiness of the things that the go bump in the woods, in its place, we get disturbing, confusing imagery, and a story that touches on some interesting issues regarding reality vs. perception, and the media’s effect on life and vice versa.  Director Joe Berlinger, he of the wonderful documentary series Paradise Lost parts 1 and 2, instead gives visuals to those disturbing images that the first movie put in our mind.  In doing such, he drowns a promising idea in a flood of inexplicable blood, gore, sex and unnecessarily loud music.

“Film lies, video tells the truth” 

Somewhere amidst the ruins of the madness and hype that surrounded the first movie, an interesting idea was hatched for the sequel.  Why not make a film that doesn’t resemble the original, while capitalizing on it at the same time.  The idea had some hope and potential, the use and manipulation of perception versus reality; how we see things, as opposed to how thing really happen.  The opening montage showing clips from media outlets, and interviews with townsfolk of Burkittsville (based around actual happenings, ironically enough) is wonderfully done, and showed some potential for an interesting commentary on the media’s effect on society and vice versa.  Unfortunately, the movie then begins.   The story focuses on one man who has started a website geared towards taking fans of the movie into the same words where Heather, Josh and Mike disappeared.  Amongst this group are a couple researching the movie for their own story/documentary, a self-proclaimed Wiccan witch, fascinated by it all, and a girl who “saw the movie and thought it was cool (shades of Ally Sheedy’s Breakfast Club detention justification).  From here, the group spends a night in the woods, including a humorous campfire scene that skewers the original via jokes regarding the lack of sex, and Heather’s annoying vocal intonations.  But of course, something strange happens.  The group awakens to a mysterious lapse in their lives, which was conveniently caught, but hidden on film, since they learned from the first film to tape everything.  The film is teetering now, and proceeds on a roller coaster course out of control, as the group pieces the evening together via flashbacks, and recounting of the footage.  This story is far too complicated than it should have been.  More time should have been given to make more sense out of the muddled mess that results.  There are unexplained stories, glaring plot holes (what IS the Book of Shadows??) and an overall sense that Berlinger watched David Lynch’s Lost Highway and decided to just throw some imagery onscreen, some hints at the first film, and let the audience figure it out.  By the end, which tries to be mysterious like the original, no one cares, because the hands been tipped, and shown, and the result is akin to someone yelling, “check mate” during poker game full of elderly deaf people.  No gets it, no one cares.  In order to succeed in the genre of horror, terror or suspense, one of two things must be accomplished.  We must be shocked, or we must be scared.  To be shocked, something has to be seen, which is so traumatizing to our senses that we just cannot comprehend, and are frozen in reclusion.  To be scared, our mind has to be convinced that what is happening, could really happen, without necessarily showing us.  The fear of the unknown that we all have, but oddly enough, are scared to admit.  Blair Witch scared, BW2 tries to shock and at times, it is innovative, mostly it is pointless and excessive, intending to shock, but almost becoming laughable in its unraveling and revelatory ideas.

Ultimately, Blair Witch 2 is a tale of wasted potential, and a prime example of the capitalistic greed that has pervaded the Hollywood mindset. The original movie was a groundbreaking example of the antithesis of the way movies are made and marketed.  Instead of continuing down that path of innovation, Sanchez and Myrick, pulling the strings for Berlinger, have whored themselves out to the same pimp that they so masterfully mocked.  The movie falls prey to the use of gore and shock, instead of natural fear, in the making of horror films.  It is sad how the promising and mighty have fallen so quickly, Blair Witch 2 is the beginning that descent, and the rapid end of their 15 minutes of fame.  A line in the movie states “Just watch the tapes”, I have watched, and the truth of the matter is, the makers of the film, in their hurried greed to capitalize, forgot their key element to success, its not what we see, but we imagine.  If you leave nothing to the imagination, you leave little room for perception and thought.  This movie deserves no more extended thought then wondering why they didn’t take more time and effort, the answer to that question is the scariest thing of all.($ out of $$$$)

Agree? Disagree, Questions? Comments?

Tell Me Here

Also see my reviews at:

Cast information and links courtesy of logo.gif (2059 bytes)

Go To Reel Rambling Page