Awfully Good: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Finally! A new BLAIR WITCH movie to wipe the taste of this one out of our mouths…

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

Director: Joe Berlinger
Stars: Jeffrey Donovan, Kim Director, Erica Leerhsen

A group of BLAIR WITCH PROJECT fans venture in to the same woods and clearly learned nothing from the first movie.

I imagine it's not easy making a sequel to something that was a legitimate phenomenon. But let me see if I can understand what the studio behind BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 was going for: You follow up your insanely popular fake documentary by hiring an acclaimed, real documentary filmmaker to direct the sequel. Then you force him to make a normal, non-documentary studio horror film.

That makes complete and total sense.

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BLAIR WITCH 2 (I don't remember any Book of Shadows in the actual movie) declares itself a "fictionalized reenactment," which is a technical way of saying they didn't want to make audience members sick a second time from all the handheld camerawork. However, not only does the sequel change up the format of its predecessor, it also spends an inordinate amount of time trashing the first movie as well. People call out the original characters for behaving stupidly. Others wonder why they weren't constantly having sex in the woods. Everyone even sits around a campfire and makes fun of poor Heather Donahue's famous crying face.

Poor Aquaman never saw that boat propeller coming.

That being said, directly incorporating the hype and hysteria of the first film in to the sequel was probably the smart choice for embracing what is clearly a cash grab. Director Joe Berlinger, who made the great PARADISE LOST documentary series, also makes a valiant attempt at going for psychological horror by constantly mindf*cking his characters. So while I can appreciate the intention of BLAIR WITCH 2, the execution is so poor it easily pushes it in to Awfully Good territory.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop owl?

The story goes—as it usually does—that the studio was not a fan of Berlinger's more character-driven original cut and re-shot and re-edited the movie to make it more violent and pleasing for general horror audiences. (I also assume they were responsible for the hilariously dated rock soundtrack, which includes both P.O.D. and Nickelback.) The result is obviously a mess. The movie constantly throws lazy jump scares, random hallucinations, and overdramatic flash cuts at the audience, hoping the abrupt editing will accidentally frighten you. And aside from the creepy reveal of the footage at the end, no part of BLAIR WITCH 2 is actually scary. Unless you find the image of a little girl ghost awkwardly walking backwards scary, and not hysterical like I did. The whole thing also looks terrible and cheap, with ugly cinematography and the same generic abandoned warehouse setting for the majority of the movie. (Considering the first film made $250 million on a $60,000 budget, you should be willing to spend a bit more on the sequel…)

Easily the scariest thing in the entire movie.

But the thing that really drives this flick off the rails is the acting, which takes whatever goodwill BLAIR WITCH 2 manages to conjure up and sends it straight to hell. There's Kim Director as the crush-worthy goth girl with psychic visions, Erica Leerhsen as a delightfully-naked Wiccan trying to connect with the witch, Tristine Skyler and Stephen Turner as an expecting husband and wife team writing a book about the ghostly phenomenon, and FARGO and BURN NOTICE star Jefferey Donovan as the tour guide who spent time in an insane asylum in what was clearly a backstory created during a last minute reshoot. The characters themselves are fine; it's just the actors who can't deliver a line to save their life. (I can't even think about Donovan saying, "She's the witch, man!" without laughing.) And a special shout out to the guy who plays the Sheriff, whose performance as a human being is so unconvincing, I actually considered the idea that he was really the witch.

The acting may be terrible, but the magnetic sexual chemistry cannot be denied.

The movie tries to throw in some cultural commentary at the very end about violent art inspiring violence, which is completely unearned and awful. Although not as bad as the laughable ending, which is just as abrupt and unsatisfying as the original. At least BLAIR WITCH 2 lives up in that respect.

You'd look like that too if you'd just watched BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2.

Terrible lines and terrible line delivery.

A collection of laughable jump scares, plus the only actually creepy part of the movie. (NSFW)

The Wiccan girls dances naked, but sadly the goth girl does not.

Don't be scared! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Someone makes a direct reference to or joke about first movie
  • Someone has a vision
  • A dumb ghost walks backwards
  • The sheriff reminds you of Yosemite Sam
  • The Wiccan girl is naked
Double shot if:
  • There's an owl onscreen

Thanks to Adam and Ed for suggesting this week's movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: Listen to the DVD commentary if you want to hear director Joe Berlinger's own disappointment in how this movie turned out.
Source: JoBlo.com



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