Jeffrey Donovan Kim Director
Erica Leerhsen Tristen Skyler
Stephen Baker Taylor
Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is a sobering comedy about one group of
cinematic clichés' craaaazy antics after a night in the woods smoking enough
dope and drinking enough beer to make an MIT student blush. Wait a minute...
you're telling me it wasn't intended to be a comedy? Oh, then in that case,
Book Of Shadows is an incoherent money-grabbing piece of dim-witted crap
that only the incredibly moronic will savour (or someone who took massive
amounts of acid before entering the theatre).
This film takes place one year after the "found" documentary footage that
became The Blair Witch Project turned into a worldwide phenomenon. People
curious to see the spot where those three annoying twits, um, documentary
filmmakers, disappeared, have overrun the sleepy little town of
Burkittsville, Maryland. Even though everyone in the town swears up and
that it was just a movie and that there is no Blair Witch, it hasn't stopped
people from combing the woods inch by inch.
It also hasn't stopped the locals from cashing in on the whole deal, as
find out when we meet local tour guide/former mental patient Jeffrey
(Jeffrey Donovan). He's taking four clichés, um, people on a stroll through
the infamous Black Hills where the first film took place: a goth chick named
Kim (Kim Director), a Wiccan cutie named Erica (Erica Leerhsen) who is out
to clear the bad rap the Blair Witch has received, and Tristen (Tristen
Skyler) and Stephen (Stephen Baker Turner), who are writing a book on the
whole "legacy" of the witch. They head to the house where the disappearances
occurred in the first film, run into a rival tour group and then proceed to smoke
an acre of marijuana and drink boatloads of booze. They awake the next
morning and find that all is not well. No, they're not hung over (oddly
enough), but Jeffrey's video equipment is destroyed and the book the couple
have been working on is torn to bits. Did the witch do it? No one is sure,
everyone seems to have blacked out. But somehow, Jeff's tapes survived and
bit-by-bit, the group begins to unravel the mystery of the night before.
They also begin to have scary things happen to them - that is, I think they
are supposed to be scary.
To be fair, Book Of Shadows does start off well, with a humourous five-minute
pseudo-documentary recap of how the first film pretty much captured the
media eye of the world and turned the little town of Burkittsville upside
down. Here, the film shows a bit of promise, a bit of potential. But, once
that little section is over and the film's, ahem, "story" kicks into place,
things go downhill faster than a car in San Francisco without any brakes.
are introduced to elements and situations that are forgotten about almost
immediately thereafter. (Example: when the group arrives at the infamous
house out in the woods, there is a very large tree growing in the middle
it. The next morning, it's gone. It is never referred to again for the rest
of the film; a result of severe editing - you can drive an eighteen wheeler
through these plot holes - or incompetent screenwriting.) Even worse, the
jumps all over the place with no rhyme or reason. One minute, Jeffrey is
a mental hospital, the next minute, he's in his house. The next minute,
in custody of a local law official. Apparently, the people responsible for
this insult have never heard of title cards.
Another thing: can someone
explain what the hell the Book Of Shadows is? There is never a mention of
it anywhere in the film.
One of those people is a director I, and many others, thought had talent:
Joe Berlinger. Berlinger has cut his teeth as a documentary
filmmaker, first with the superb Brother's Keeper, which was smart, funny,
keenly observant and effective. In 1996, he made Paradise Lost, a
true-life horror film about juvenile murders in the woods by
Satan-worshipping teenagers. Both of these films showed Berlinger would
been the ideal director to tackle a Blair Witch sequel: he knows how to
wryly observe the media and he also knew how to give his viewer the creeps
without going overboard.
Apparently, he also only knew how to make this work in the non-fiction
genre. For his first fiction film, he has made a horror film that is about
as scary as tying your shoelace. His directorial style here is one that
would make even Ed Wood cringe. Berlinger believes that funky camerawork
editing worthy of a Michael Bay film are going to work their spooky spell
the audience. All it does is show how much he doesn't know about making
His screenplay, co-written with Dick Beebee, is equally poor. It's
filled with such laughable lines as "We brought something back with us.
Something evil!" and "I am the law here, I am the one with the POWER!" among
thousands of others. As with the first film, the only thing that I cared
about in terms of the characters was when that witch was going to do us
favour and kill these irritating twits (oh yeah, and when Erica was going
do some cool, nude Wiccan dancing).
The screenplay is only partially to blame for unsympathetic characters.
A terrible cast takes the remainder of the blame, bringing us Amateur Hour at its worst. Tristen
Skyler and Stephen Baker Turner are the worst offenders of The Ryan
Phillipe Non-Acting Award. They can't act, period. Their line deliveries
make those found in adult movies seem like Shakespeare. Erica Leerhsen,
Director and Jeffrey Donovan acquit themselves only slightly better. To be honest folks, you could have taken the cast of 'L.A.
Confidential' and put them in this film (hey, now that would have actually
been fun to watch) and I doubt that even they could have done anything with
this sorry mess.
I wasn't a fan of The Blair Witch Project. I found it to be an
over-hyped, pretentious piece of art house crud that had five minutes of
intensity (the ending), one hell of a marketing campaign and nothing else
it. I wish I could say that after sitting through Book Of Shadows: Blair
Witch 2 - I had more respect for the first one. This is one
the worst sequels I have ever seen, a completely unnecessary excursion that
is a waste of the time, brain cells and ninety minutes of life for every
person who has the misfortune of sitting through it.