Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
I wanted to like it more than I actually did... But much of the humor totally escaped me and I walked out only mildly impressed.
what a terribly boring film. I'm sorry but this is absolutely not deserving of best picture and will be forgotten quickly. Entertaining and engaging cinema? No. Nothing performances with flat faces and mistaking silence for subtlety.
It's the kind of movie you'll want to see a second time with someone who hasn't seen it yet, to remember what it was like to watch it for the first time.
All of these films share one commonality, that being a kind of emotional center that humanizes a cast of monsters.
Book of Shadows benefits from being distinct from the original, shooting to be a meta-comment on the popularity and questions surrounding the found footage classic. Otherwise, there are few words for awful this is. I can't decide what is worse: the insanely stupid script, the collection of terrible actors, the clichéd and bland direction, or the insane choice to edit in a non-linear timeline. Works better as a comedy than a horror, as I audibly laughed way more than I jumped.
Released in 2000 and directed by Joe Berlinger, "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" begins amidst the hysteria of the found-footage of the first film. People from around the world curious about the Blair witch phenomenon overrun Burkittsville, Maryland, wherein an entrepreneurial dude named Jeff (Jeffrey Donovan) leads a 'Blair Witch Hunt' tour involving four clients, a Wiccan, a Goth girl and an academic couple. After camping at the ruins of the home of an executed murderous hermit (who was evidently possessed by the spirit of the witch in the 1940s) the group has a rude awakening when they can't remember what happened the night before. They go to Jeff's nearby pad—a curious factory-turned-house—to review the video tapes for answers and discover something horribly macabre.Atmospherically, "Book of Shadows" is quite effective as a haunting ghost/witch flick and the writing is actually smart—the entire play on hysteria, delusion & perception is quite clever. The screenplay was written by director Berlinger, who's best known for the great "Paradise Lost" trilogy of documentaries about the "West Memphis three," youthful outcasts accused of a hideous 1993 triple murder in Arkansas based on dubious evidence (and who were finally released in 2011). Anyway, "Book of Shadows" starts satirically and amusing, but gets increasing serious and sinister. The acting is good too, with Kim Director's powerhouse performance as the Goth girl standing out. Erica Leerhsen is also a highlight as the Wiccan babe with several alluring scenes, but they coulda done more with her.The reason so many people call this flick "the worst movie ever made" (Why sure!) is obviously because it's a knee-jerk reaction to it being a sequel to the mega-popular "The Blair Witch Project" (1999), which was an altogether different kind of movie, being a found-footage flick, not to mention the herd-mentality of an over-critical feeding-frenzy. Since I'm not a fan of found-footage films—seeing as how they're about as entertaining as watching home movies for an hour and a half—I find "Book of Shadows" far more interesting than the first film.There's a secret message in the movie that you can discover in (***SPOILER ALERT***): the FIRE, the GRASS, the factory WINDOW, the GRAVESTONE and the RUG, which all-together spells: "Seek me no further or...". This combined with reversing Tristen's backward words in the last act reveal the secret of 'ESREVER': "Seek me no further or... the children will again walk free," meaning: the Blair witch would loose the spirits of the murdered children to torment the invaders of her domain. (***END SPOILER***) As for the complaints of there being no Book of Shadows, it's simply not true. The character Jeff is a movie enthusiast with ambitions of being a filmmaker and "Book of Shadows" is the name of one of the scripts he put together and intends to shoot. So it's not something totally out of nowhere that Artisan dubiously added to the title, as most people think. Yes, they added it, but it had relevance to the movie. Furthermore, the actual 'Book of Shadows' is a Wiccan spell book and is figuratively used in the movie in that the group obviously falls under the spell of the Blair Witch after entering her diabolical terrain.The film features a creative score by Carter Burwell and a rockin' soundtrack with quality cuts by the likes of Marilyn Manson ("Disposable Teens"), Godhead ("The Reckoning") and many more.After Berlinger finished his version of the movie the studio complained that there weren't enough conventional horror elements and so additional scenes were shot & edited into the picture. What else is new? It has been thus throughout cinematic history. For me, the added scenes beef-up what might've otherwise been too low-key for a horror flick. True, this route was taken with the first film, but "Book of Shadows" is the antithesis of that movie, and it's the better for it IMHO."Book of Shadows" is a dense horror flick and therefore worthy of repeat viewings for gems to mine. (One aid in helping to understand the picture is Jeff's statement at the camp: "Film lies; video tells the truth"). Unfortunately, this is evidently too much for some dullards. Yes, it's a slow-build with meandering aspects, but the movie's laden with subtext and the climax is pretty horrific, even while it's somewhat predictable. You never see the witch, but her nefarious presence is palpable nevertheless and the ambiance fittingly oozes Gothic. As for the doofuses who argue that the pic has too little to do with the first one, nothing could be further from the truth. Lastly, Jeff's factory-turned-house is almost iconic; a great location for a ghostly horror flick.The film runs 90 minutes and was shot in Baltimore, Maryland.GRADE: B
Crappy sequel to the hugely successful low-budget Blair Witch Project takes a different approach than its predecessor in every way. Instead of being done in found footage style, it's done as a traditional horror flick with a little documentary-style stuff thrown in. Instead of believable characters, creepy atmosphere, and not being afraid to leave some things up to the imagination, we get unlikable clichéd characters, bloody violence, nudity, and an obtrusive heavy metal soundtrack. As soon as the movie started with a Marilyn Manson song I could tell I was in for a stinker. The acting is mostly mediocre with a couple of exceptions. Jeffrey Donovan is absolutely terrible, hamming it up like he thinks he's Jack Nicholson or something. Of course he later went on to success with Burn Notice but even most viewers of that show could tell you how often he displayed the limitations of his acting ability there. Kim Director is the only one of the cast who seems to stand out in any positive way. It's a poor excuse for a movie that is everything Blair Witch Project was not -- loud, predictable, and utterly 'Hollywood' in every way that can be used as an insult. A lazy cash-grab sequel that is as awful now as it was then.
Director Joe Berlinger does an exemplary job of creating a truly terrifying environment in this film and he keeps the suspense level high from beginning to the very end shot. This is an intense film and the thrills are unrelenting. Haunting imagery and some truly horrific sequences are likely to stay with audiences for many years. The cast is exceptionally good and give some very powerful individual performances. It is, however, Kim Director who stands out and gives the film something very special. She is absolutely mesmerizing in the movie and when she is on screen no one can avert their eyes. She is a magnetic screen presence and the camera loves her. When she isn't in a scene, her absence is sorely missed and upon her return the movie catches fire again. Her role here is essential and casting her was a stroke of genius.