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Now Showing: Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows

Posted: Sunday, October 29, 2000

Ok. Let's see if I can get this straight.

The Blair Witch Project was a fictional movie, passing itself off as truth, about a bunch of amateur documentarians getting killed in the woods by a scary witch. Blair Witch 2 is a fictional movie, passing itself off as truth, about a bunch of people who are obsessed with the first Blair Witch (the movie, mind you, not the actual witch) who try to retrace the steps of the first bunch, and end up pretty much the same way. I think I got lost somewhere along the way. Not, however, as lost as the writers, and I use that term loosely, of Book of Shadows.

 

Erica Geerson (Erica Leerhsen), Stephen Ryan Parker (Stephen Barker Turner), Tristen Ryler (Tristen Skyler), and Jeff Patterson (Jeffrey Donovan) in Artisan's Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 - 2000

First of all, there is no book. I don't know what the title is supposed to mean, but there's no book in the entire movie. This is a good indicator of the high level of quality work that went into the script. The dialogue is terrible and the plot makes no sense. At least, the part of the plot that they let the audience in on makes no sense. You get the feeling that there is supposed to be more going on, but they never address it. In the first movie, the missing plot elements only added to the mystery. After all, it was supposedly only leftover footage with no outside explanation. It was kind of cool that they didn't tell us everything. Here, it just seems like the writers never could figure out what was going on, so they just left out the parts that they didn't understand. Basically the setup is that, as I said before, a bunch of obsessed fans go to the woods looking for...something. The witch, the filmmakers tracks, it's never made clear. Then, after a crazy night of drinking and drugs, they awake to find all of their stuff trashed. They spend the rest of the movie having frightening premonitions and freaking each other out. There are a few genuinely scary parts, and some of the plot might have worked. Mysterious video footage that suggests the presence of the supernatural got my attention for a minute, but it never really pans out. The few scary bits are wasted by the absolute junk they're strung together with.

The acting was another big issue. Granted, with this script, they didn't have much to work with, but that excuse can only take you so far. There is a goth girl, a Wiccan (all of whose dialogue includes the word "Wiccan." They wanted to make sure we didn't forget) a couple writing a book about mass hysteria, and a local opportunist running a tour company. The goth girl stares blankly for most of the movie (apparently being goth is all about looking stoned), and the tour guide is constantly paranoid. Early scenes of him in a mental institution were added in at the last minute. Bad idea. I thought for a minute that I was watching a comedy. The Wiccan prances around half naked, spouting off about earth spirits and good magic. She was apparently here to fulfill the requisite sex quota. There is a nonsensical subplot about an unwanted pregnancy going on with the book-writing couple, and they spend most of their time railing on about that. This is the topnotch cast of characters assembled for us. When they aren't fulfilling their assigned roles, they're shouting "Blair Witch was only a movie!!" at each other. The whole group is pretty much unwatchable.

One of the things that made the first movie so interesting was that the dialogue seemed fairly authentic. I think a lot of it was made up on the spot, and it really served to further the premise that what you were watching was, in fact, real. Here the dialogue sounds like it was meant to sound unscripted and spontaneous, but actually sounds very scripted. It was like watching a badly scripted version of it. The filmmakers try to extend that feel of authenticity by including interviews with actual people from Burkitsville, Maryland, the town where the Blair Witch supposedly took place. One gem of a scene features the town's sheriff, a fat Slim Whitman look alike with a dirty gray ponytail I guess he was supposed to provide "local color". The one bit of actual truth surrounding the whole Blair Witch phenomena is that this small town has been overrun with curious fans, angering the locals. Unfortunately, this movie is probably not going to do anything to endear Hollywood to the people of Burkitsville. Throughout the film the local people are portrayed as inbred, backwoods idiots. In fact, 1 think that's a line from the movie.

The Blair Witch Project was good, scary fun. It was original, creepy, did it all with virtually no blood, and without ever actually showing the witch. The early word on Book of Shadows was that it was going to go out of it's way to be different from it's predecessor. It definitely succeeds. It's not original, it's boring, and it's very gory. They still don't show the witch, but I'm sure she's in there somewhere. After one of the longest ninety minute stretches of my life, I definitely feel cursed. Grade: D-

It is rated R for nudity, language, and violence.

Click here to see times and synopsis



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