Book of Shadows:  Blair Witch 2

   I guess it's only fitting that I start this review by telling what I thought of the first Blair Witch movie.  The Blair Witch Project was not a great film.  However, I did find it entertaining, original, and quite frightening.  It was a good idea, and showed that a compelling movie can be produced without a big budget.  Fortunately, I was not one of the many who found the shaky camera movements unsettling.  Also, I respect the skill with which it was marketed to a mass audience.  Marketing, more than anything, is responsible for its phenomenal success.

    I can confidently say that this sequel is absolutely nothing like the first film.  In most reviews, that would be a positive statement, but here I mean that it's not entertaining, not original, and worst of all, not scary.  There is, in fact, no reason that this movie should be connected with the first Blair Witch film at all.  Even the title, Book of Shadows, is almost meaningless.  This could be any generic horror film ever made, except that most other horror films have the common decency to follow a certain amount of logic.  Here, any things that cannot be readily explained, like holes in the plot, are simply blamed on the Blair Witch!  As the Church Lady would say, "How conveeeenient." 
    The film begins with about 15 minutes of mock-documentary, gloating over how popular the first Blair Witch movie was.  I suppose that it didn't occur to the filmmakers that the only people who would be interested in seeing this sequel were the very ones who made that first film so successful.  Duh!  So much for modesty.
    After that, we follow a Blair Witch tour group on a visit to the locations of the first movie.  We are challenged to believe that the first movie was so popular that an entire tourist industry, catering to rabid fans of The Blair Witch Project, has sprung up around the town of Berkittsville.  It also asks us to believe, that in this story, the first movie actually was a real documentary pieced together from tapes found one year after the students who filmed it disappeared. 
    The tour group wants to make sure they experience the full effect of their creepy forest locale, so they drink a lot of alcohol, and do drugs by the light of the campfire.  Is it any wonder that they go on to witness a lot of unexplained supernatural occurances? 
    What follows are many standard horror devices, and many more leaps in storytelling logic.  Strange things happen, people disappear, people get killed, and they try to blame it all on the witch.  Whoop-de-freakin'-do. 
   I don't even think that a good advertising campaign will help Book of Shadows.  I'll be surprised, and frightened, if it survives past its first two weeks of release.
Directed By:  Joe Berlinger
Starring:  Kim Director, Jeff Donovan, Erica Leerhsen, Tristine Skyler, Stephen Barker Turner
Rated:  R (Nudity, Profanity)
Running Time:  90 Min.
Review published
October 30, 2000
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