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Book Of Shadows : Blair Witch 2  

Cast: Kim Director, Jeffrey Donovan, Erica Leerhsen, Tristen Skyler, Stephen Barker Turner Directed by: Joe Berlinger Written by: Joe Berlinger and Dick Beebe

When the original "Blair Witch Project" was released, it was greeted by praise from many (myself included) while vitriolic attacks eminated from others claiming the film's unorthodox style drained it of any kind of suspense and intrigue. To put it simply, "Blair Witch 2" is a textbook example of why the original was more effective than some were willing to give it credit for. To help prove my point, let us consider some of the complaints with regards to the original:
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1. They didn't show any blood, guts, gore or monsters in the original. If you don't show anything like that, the movie isn't scary.

Well, blood and guts fans, you're in for a treat this time around as there is disembowelment aplenty in "BW2." Gory? You bet. Scary? Not even close. (Mark Borchardt's "Coven" was scarier. Seriously.)

2. Because of all the jerky camera movements in the original, it was impossible to tell what was going on.

A completely different, more conventional style was utilized this time, and you know what? It's far more incoherent than the first "Blair Witch" thanks to a truly disjointed script and some stupifyingly amateurish editing.

3. In a situation like the one Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael Williams faced, it's impossible to believe that they would continue to film even after strange things kept happening to them. Basically, it was completely implausible.

Yeah, and naturalistic integrity was absolutely KEY here.

4. Heather Donahue was SO over-the-top and annoying in the original.

Wrong. Her performance (and that of her co-stars) was terrific - injecting a frightening, visceral resonance into the movie. Those who bashed it simply didn't get it. She was wonderful. "BW2" houses some downright awful would-be performances. The actors seem to divide their time between being scared, being pissed off, being stupid, and being "possessed." (Or, maybe that's how the filmmakers cajoled them into starring in their movie. I don't know.) None of the actors are able to pull it off. Where's Linda Blair when you need her?

5. At the end of the original, no explanation was given. None at all.

So, what exactly does "Book of Shadows" refer to?

The story takes place during the fall following the theatrical release of the original "Blair Witch Project." A former mental patient (Jeffrey Donovan) who has since recovered now runs a tour called the Blair Witch Hunt, taking curious groups of people fascinated by the original movie into the woods where it was filmed. His first tour consists of a motley crew indeed: a Gothic girl (Kim Director) who doesn't believe in the Blair Witch but loved the movie, a practitioner of Wicca (Erica Leerhsen), and a yuppie couple (Steven Turner and Tristen Skyler) writing a book on the events surrounding the Blair Witch legend. It all begins as an innocuous romp through the woods, but soon strange developments start to take place - all of which point to the curse of the Blair Witch.

Because the decision was made early on not to utilize the fake documentary style embraced by the original, I was a little surprised that executive producers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez tapped documentary genius Joe ("Paradise Lost") Berlinger to helm the sequel. Or perhaps I'm more surprised that Berlinger took them up on the offer - the script offers nothing interesting (or particularly original, for the matter.) The goal was to give the sequel a flair of its own, yet it plays like a routine, mindless horror flick. Berlinger is capable of so much more.

I'm not sure why a sequel to "The Blair Witch Project" was even made. Yes, I know what you're thinking... the chance to make more money. Yet it still astonishes me that anyone associated with this picture (especially Myrick and Sanchez) actually thought this material could, or would, or should work. What this "project" does is garner little interest, evoke no chills, and offer no explanations as to why. I could go into more detail, but I think I'll just return the favor.

Copyright 2001 Michael Brendan McLarney Critically Ill

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