"Video never lies, film does though."
Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows
Review by Ross Anthony

"There are a lot of nay-sayers who come in and ... say 'nay.'"

This is the offhand, pseudo-documentary commentary that opens "Blair Witch" the sequel. A laid back, even silly mood "with witch" to contrast chilling horror. Well, not quite chilling horror; but eerie scary at least.

I'd wager to say this film is quite nearly similar to the first inentertainment value - but for different reasons. A hugely welcome 35mm camera on a hugely welcome tripod make the sequel several times more watchable than the first. No more dizziness, headaches or vomiting. That indelible image of grass and trees waving, scratching back and forth against the screen as our Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadowsactor/cinematographers run amok, has been thankfully left as a first film phenomenon. Also, 98% of what you see on screen is not shot by the participants at all, but in normal film fashion with a real anonymous camera-operator. The editing, though a bit dodgy in the start, becomes quite normal.

Another welcome addition, the sequel has a bit more "plan" to it. Unfortunately, the plan never fully develops nor are the actors really scared. No matter what I read about that first film in the press notes ... it is still this reviewers opinion that those actors were truly riled and confused. And that captured on film is worth more than a very good plan. The sequel hosts no such real emotions. Though the actors are perhaps equally talented - the first batch didn't have to act as often.

Directing, acting and story being quite mediocre; it's the lack of climax that drops this film into the below average zone. Though the drama is actually pretty interesting, dare I say even mildly compelling, there's nothing meaningful that really ties the whole piece together at the end. Additionally, the motif of each player turning on the other was worked to death (pardon the statement) in the first film.

Unfortunately too, so passes the soul of the seed that is the "Blair Witch Project." Who cares about some child killing witch myth? It certainly wasn't this plot that brought the original film out of the woods and into cinema lore; it was the scheme! The truly riled actors, the ballsie hype, the simple idea.

This second film is more of the former and less of the later; making it more like any other ordinary scary movie of recent years. But in all fairness, for Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadowsas much as it's departed from the first in guts, a sense of continuum maintains. And as with the first, there isn't much blood or slashing here - if that's the kind of thing you were hoping for, look elsewhere.

Here's the nutshell synopsis:

A year later in Burkittsville, the region the first "Project" claimed home to the murderous Blair Witch is now overrun with movie fans and tourists. One opportunist with a van and camera equipment, accompanied by four paying customers, sets out to camp at the foundation of that infamous unholy house of the first film. All in good fun, but as you might guess, they don't get much of a pleasant night's sleep, while more than just the cameras play tricks on them.

The Ending Contest: In 100 words or less write me a better ending to this film. (Shouldn't be too hard) I'll look over the entries and pick from them my personal favorite - sorry it's completely subjective. That winner will be printed on this site by Thanksgiving ... so send 'em in now. And let me look around, I can probably find a couple of free IMAX tickets around here somewhere to award the winner as well.

  • Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows. Copyright © 2000. Rated R
  • Starring Kim Director, Jeffrey Donovan, Erica Leerhsen, Tristen Skyler, Stephen Barker Turner, Lanny Flaherty.
  • Directed by Joe Berlinger.
  • Written by Joe Berlinger and Dick Beebe.
  • Produced by Bill Carraro.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:19:14 PDT