Pop quiz: What does BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2, the sequel to that indie
smash hit THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, have in common with its ancestor?
Answer: The name.
To be fair, part of the crew, namely joint writers, directors and editors
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, did hang around for the sequel. But this
time all they get are producers' credits, which they may want to see removed
from this turkey.
This time director Joe Berlinger, working from an obtuse script by Dick
Beebe, Joe Berlinger, Jon Bokenkamp and Neal Stevens, creates a movie that
so hard to follow that you'll be happy that it gives you no reason to care
that you're confused. I wasn't a fan of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, but it is
a cinematic masterpiece of originality compared to its sequel, which is a
bad example of a teen slasher flick. Fright in BOOK OF SHADOWS comes only
from sudden loud noises. The episodes of sliced human flesh and spurting
blood are gross, not scary.
The basic premise this time is that a bunch of kids sign up on THE BLAIR
WITCH PROJECT web site -- a movie that plugs it's own web site has a lot of
gall -- to take a tour into the woods to look for the witch. While hanging
out amongst the trees, the kids babble incoherent and perfectly ridiculous
lines. "I think you're being a monomaniacal reductionist!" one girl says to
one of the guys as her version of a classy put-down. I don't know about
you, but that would sure shut me up. (Although they might more precisely be
referred to as "young adults," the characters are so juvenile that I will
continue to refer to them as "kids" in the review.)
When the movie isn't trying, without success, to terrify us, it tries with
even less success to amuse us with its self-deprecating humor. "Newsflash
everyone! That was just a movie," Stephen (Stephen Barker Turner) says when
the kids begin to take the witch story too seriously. "Video never lies;
film does," says another. The sequel, you see, is done on film whereas the
original was done on video with a motion-sickness inducing shakicam, so they
are poking fun at their own movie. Funny huh? Not really.
The kids do find one flaw in the original movie that the film critics
missed. They said it was unrealistic to expect the kids in the original to
spend time terrified in the woods without having sex with each other. After
all, they reason, "sex is the greatest stress reliever in the world." Ah,
from the mouths of babes, ...
BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 runs just 1:30, but you'll swear it was
longer. It is rated R for violence, language, sexuality and drug use and
would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes