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BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2

SYNOPSIS:
A year after the hoopla surrounding the original Blair Witch Project movie, eccentric Burkittsville resident Jeffrey Patterson cashes in with a tour to the sites featured in the film. His very first tour group consists of Stephen (Stephen Barker Turner) and Tristen (Tristine Ryler), a couple researching a book about mass hysteria, Erica (Erica Leershen) a Wicca, and Kim (Kim Director) a Goth who thought the movie was cool. They camp out at the ruins of the house featured in the movie but in the morning find all their video equipment trashed. The video tapes are, however, intact and the group retires to Jeff’s home (an abandoned factory) to try to unravel the mystery from the tapes.

"The reputed first rule of sequels is that if you’re going to make one, you’ve got to make it better than the original. In the case of Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, the sequel doesn’t even come close to matching, let alone surpassing, the original. The original Blair Witch Project was something of a landmark, creating a credible air of menace and sense of real fear, through its cinema verite techniques and elaborate back story. The makers of this film have abandoned both. Those fans obsessed with the original will note that crucial details of the back story have been conveniently forgotten or changed beyond recognition. Indeed, the whole film has the feel of a cheap knock-off. It starts out interestingly enough but soon loses its way in a mire of gore, pointless philosophy and just plain stupid plot turns. Even the basic storyline is a rip-off of several other far superior movies, including Arlington Road. In creating this mish-mash of ideas, the scriptwriters inflict the audience with all manner of nonsense which more often than not results in giggles rather than goosebumps. The cast of young actors isn’t served well by the material, with none of the characters given the chance of any real development. Kim Director is at least believable as Kim, the Goth with attitude; but even she seems embarrassed by the lines she’s forced to deliver towards the end. A sadly misconceived muddle, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows is probably best given the same fate as its namesake – banished to the woods never to be seen again."
David Edwards

"The Blair Witch project was the cinematic equivalent of a novelty song: a cute idea that catches on for a while and is then forgotten. In five years' time, will anyone remember what was so thrilling about a repetitive amateur video of kids stumbling round in the woods and pretending to be scared? At the time, this innocent lack of craft was part of the point - the 'found footage' genuinely looked homemade. Obviously there's no way to retain that innocence in a sequel. It's disappointing, though, that writer-director Joe Berlinger barely tries to extend the pseudo-documentary premise. Instead, Book Of Shadows presents itself as a knowing, Scream-like commentary on the whole Blair Witch phenomenon. (Of course, the original Blair Witch was already a response to Scream - both were conceptual, self-referential horror films, though in different ways.) Everybody in this film has seen The Blair Witch Project: it's fun seeing the original locations again in a shiny Hollywood feature, and hearing characters discuss the casual, improvised interactions in the first film as though they were Holy Writ. Implicitly, we're asked to decide which is more convincingly 'real' - film or video. 'Video never lies,' claims one character. 'Film lies.' But is it true that video never lies? Certainly, Berlinger goes out of his way to make it unclear what's 'true' and what isn't, confusing us with frequent gruesome fantasy sequences, flash-forwards and plot threads that don't go anywhere. This is hardly a routine horror film, and it has some interesting ideas. But it's a mess, badly made and badly thought-out, and the acting is often terrible. One unfortunate strategy from the first film has been retained: the actors use their own names while playing obnoxious 'alternative' types who spend their time bitching, moaning and acting self-righteous. Are these roles meant to reflect 'real life'? I hope not."
Jake Wilson



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

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Blair Witch 2

BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 (MA 15+)
(US)

CAST: Stephen Barker Turner, Tristine Skyler, Erica Leerhsen, Kim Director

DIRECTOR: Joe Berlinger

PRODUCER: Bill Carraro

SCRIPT: Dick Beebe and Joe Berlinger

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Nancy Schreiber

EDITOR: Sarah Flack

MUSIC: Carter Burwell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Vincent Peranio

RUNNING TIME: 90 mins

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 11, 2001







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