Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

Last year I said that The Blair Witch Project is a great film, and I will always stand by that statement. Sure, it unleashed a plague of cheap found footage garbage, but can you really blame the good thing for all the knockoffs that follow? Speaking of cheap knockoffs, this year we’re talking about Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, a mistake on just about every level. Sure, that sounds a bit unfair, but how else am I supposed to feel about a movie called “Book of Shadows” that doesn’t ever feature–or even reference or mention–a spooky and/or witchy book? So the title is a lie, right out the gate? Fan-fuckin-tastic.

Where The Blair Witch Project sells itself as real life tragic events, Book of Shadows immediately lets us know that this is definitely not that:

The following is a fictionalized re-enactment of events that occurred after the release of The Blair Witch Project. It is based on public records, local Maryland TV broadcasts and hundreds of hours of taped interviews. To protect the privacy of certain individuals, some names have been changed.

I can’t imagine a single person believing that, so we start knowing this is a totally fictional account riding the coattails of a better movie. The story sees 5 people–a mentally ill Blair Witch fan, a stereotype of a Wiccan, a psychic goth, a researcher, and the researcher’s pregnant girlfriend–spend a night in the woods outside of Burkittsville, only to wake up missing time and most of their belongings. So they leave the woods and spend the rest of the movie in what’s effectively a bunker, going extremely slowly through the video footage of that night to find out what happened. Madness starts to set in as they apparently brought evil back with them, and soon everyone is hallucinating and at each other’s throats. The Wiccan dies while the girlfriend miscarries and then dies, while supposedly possessed by… I guess the Blair Witch? Or maybe dead kids? To be honest, I had kind of tuned out by this point. The remaining three are arrested and are shocked to find out that all evidence shows–beyond a reasonable doubt–that they all were the murderers. OR WERE THEY?! It doesn’t matter. The movie ends playing Poe’s “Haunted,” which was the highlight of the whole 90 minutes.

No, seriously, why the fuck is this called “Book of Shadows” if there isn’t a book of shadows?! The Wiccan girl didn’t even have one!

It’s kind of impressive that this is a sequel that threw out everything that made the original so successful. The characters are introduced practically vomiting exposition at each other. It’s kind of surprising to know that several of the actors went on to do better things–I’m looking at you, Mr. Jeffrey Donovan of Burn Notice–because just about every one of them gave an incredibly stiff performance. The bickering felt petty and forced, supernatural entities notwithstanding. And nothing was even remotely scary. One big example is the footage of their missing time; it was just them having a very poorly attended woodland rave. Am I supposed to be horrified that they’re acting like savages in their underwear? Well, mostly underwear, as the Wiccan is the only character that would require censorship if this were shown on TV, but still. The biggest scare the movie tries to pull off is that the characters lost touch with reality enough that they can’t be sure that they didn’t actually murder people, but there’s no reasonable explanation other than “a witch was fucking with them.” None of them were paragons of sanity, but they weren’t the kind of people to shank a snotty gas station cashier before they entered the woods and slept under the impossible tree. That last bit kind of makes sense in context…

If the movie felt forced, it’s because it totally was. Artisan Entertainment wanted to capitalize on the success of The Blair Witch Project immediately, because blah blah capitalism bad. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez–the writers/directors of the first film–didn’t feel like that was the right move, so Artisan went with Joe Berlinger, who had only directed documentaries before. When he was finished with his movie, Artisan stepped in and forced reshoots to make it… bad. I guess they thought it was better their way? Basically nobody seems happy with the end result.

Blah. Blah. Capitalism bad.

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One thought on “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

  1. Pingback: The Blair Witch Project (1999) | Chwineka Watches

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