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Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
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Review Date: October 23, 2000
Director: Joe Berlinger
Writer: Joe Berlinger, Dick Beebe
Producers: Bill Carraro
Actors:
Kim Director
Jeffrey Donovan
Stephen Barker
Plot:
Four fans of the original "Blair Witch Project" movie hop on a tour to visit the actual locations where the first film apparently took place. Led by a local psychologically disturbed individual, the fun-loving teens drink and party all night, only to wake up and find themselves unable to remember a big chunk of their evening past, and caught in the middle of a ritualistic murder investigation. Are they all cold-blooded killers? Is one of them a witch and spooking the others? Are they all innocent but nuts? Does Roger Ebert actually make an appearance in this film? All very scary thoughts...
Critique:
If you're looking for thrills, chills and plenty of scares...this film is not for you. This movie is a decent psychological mystery filled with paranoia and delusions, which messes with your head and demands that you keep thinking about it, even after you've left the theatre. Not necessarily an audience-friendly film, but then again, neither was the original. My initial reaction to this film was lukewarm. It wasn't until further contemplation that the film struck a chord with me and eventually ingratiated itself the tag of a "good" movie. But if the boogie-man a la SCREAM is what you're looking for, you will not find it here. If you're looking for something similar to the first film, you will not get that here either. This film is original in its own right, with all of the characters making reference and working off the events which "apparently" took place in the first film. They speak about the characters, they follow in their footsteps, and they too, eventually get caught up in something that's apparently beyond their simple teen grasps. But is all of this entertaining, thrilling or even interesting? To some, yes...to others, no.

I enjoyed parts of this film, and didn't care much for others. I liked the way that the whole movie was shot. Nice style. Good directing. Perhaps too many flashbacks for its own good, but enough spooky moments to make you question the events taking place and get into the mystery of it all. But at some point, a lot of the film's events felt redundant, like they were going around in circles. Everyone confused, everyone pointing fingers, who did what to whom? But it isn't until you figure out the truth in the end, that all of that disorder begins to make a little sense. I won't say any more because I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone, but suffice it to say that "seeing is not always believing". Unfortunately for the audience, the film doesn't really offer up too many clues during the actual picture or graft out any real solutions, but for those who enjoy the head trips, watch your step on the way in and enjoy.

I think that the core Blair Witch audience might appreciate this movie, or those who don't mind sitting through the same film over and over again, just to uncover its secrets. For most, the film will provide no obvious scares (cheap or otherwise) or miraculous strokes of terror. But this film is not about that. It's all about undertones and your interpretation of the events taking place. Perception, interpretation, reality...all play different roles in this movie. It's up to you to figure out who is playing who. Not exactly what John Q. Public generally looks for in a movie, eh? But even beyond all that, this film managed to keep me interested for most of its way, provided for a couple of spooky scenes, and did finally manage to re-insert T&A back into horror films, so even your average moviegoer has to give it at least that much! The actors were so-so, with decent performances here and there, over-acting there and here, and the soundtrack, appropriately heavy, creepy and hip (gotta sell those soundtracks!).

So if you like head-games, enjoy all that supernatural witch mumbo-jumbo and appreciate films which blur the line between the reality of your mind and the actual events (think OJ, people!), then you might just really enjoy this one. A LOST HIGHWAY for the teens. Not a classic, not a bad movie, not a great movie...but definitely something interesting. PS: Incidentally, don't ask me what "Book of Shadows" means because that's another thing that the film doesn't hand you on a platter. You gotta work for this one, people.

NOTE: My appreciation of this film was lifted after I read a bit more about it after my viewing. Now if you are confused about the film, its characters or what really happened, and want to achieve a deeper understanding of the material, I suggest you read some of what the director of this film had to say here, but please note that it does contain possible ** SPOILERS **. I would suggest that you read it only after having seen the film.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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