Worth A Look: 14.58%
Pretty Bad: 7.64%
Total Crap: 60.42%
10 reviews, 84 user ratings
|Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
by Scott Weinberg
If 'earth-shatteringly dull' is a term you like your horror movies described as, Blair Witch 2 is for you. Single-handedly demolishing the creepy vibe that permeated the original film, Blair Witch 2 is the most blatant example of Hollywood money-grubbing in recent history. Let this movie stand as an example of how something so fresh can quickly sour into slime. This sequel is an affront to any moviegoer with 8 bucks in his hand. Trust me.Considering the controversy of the original, you'd think that the creators of the sequel would be just exploding with new and exciting directions to explore. Perhaps the sequel could have been a 'flashback'/prequel affair, in which we're shown the story behind the 200 year old Blair Witch legend. Certainly the original film's website offered enough juicy backstory to afford a clever screenwriter something to work with. Of all the different ways to go about making BWP2, surely this is not what fans of the original expect or deserve.
"If Hollywood were any more predictable...oh wait, that's impossible."
The threadbare plot involves a group of five fairly uninteresting people, who venture back into the woods where the original three hikers went missing. The tour guide is a former mental patient, and his group consists of a self-proclaimed Wiccan, a pale and sarcastic Goth chick and a bland couple who are doing research on a Blair Witch book. As they are spending the night on the site of earlier Blair Witch atrocities, they fall asleep and can remember nothing of the night before. While the concept of what happened during their 'blackout' gives an opportunity for some disturbing concepts, the script is simply bereft of anything unique or even remotely interesting.
The fact that none of the characters contain one tiny speck of charisma or even likability doesn't prevent director Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost) from filling every scene with unending and unendurable dialogue. The plot goes from 'here we are in the woods' to 'here we are in this spooky old factory that this former lunatic somehow owns' before the film comes to a screeching halt, and as the credits roll, count how many groans and snorts you hear from departing moviegoers.
To mention that every actor in this film is unconvincing (and that's me being kind) and annoying is notable, but that's hardly the reason why this movie fails so convincingly. When a movie has as many glaring flaws as this one, poor acting performances isn't the top complaint on my list. If your waiter brings you a cold steak, why complain about the limp french fries?
The earlier parts of the film contain several none-too-subtle jabs at the hype surrounding the original film, and the citizens of the ill-fated town of Burkittsville are displayed in an insultingly unfunny light. All the townsfolk are slovenly bumpkins, and are even referred to as inbreds. Hey, we're talking about a real town here, not to mention a town that's taken a lot of punishment due to its unwanted involvement in these movies. How about just a little respect?
Character development is at a minimum, and a subplot involving the main character's imprisonment in an asylum is merely a red herring; it's alluded to several times, but never once has any bearing on the story. A handful of mysterious files are discovered, but are never mentioned again.
Even the title is pointless and vague! There is not one reference to a "Book of Shadows" in the entire film! Isn't there a rule somewhere that the title has to have just a little to do with the actual movie? Isn't that like false advertising? What if I was a HUGE fan of 'book' movies? I'd be pretty angry.
The scenes I assume were meant to be scary consist entirely of quick-edits of bodies being bludgeoned, stabbed and basically abused. Unfortunately, these sequences are more annoying than shocking, and they also serve to give away the allegedly surprising revelations at the end of the movie. (If you can't figure out what this quintet of morons did during their 'blackout', you need to see more horror movies.)
This movie is a textbook example of filmmaking it its most base:
Screw the script, screw the fans and screw quality. The original made $200 million just over one year ago, and the producers aren't going to wait around for someone to make something good. Slap a number 2 on the poster, and watch 'em line up!
As a critic who proudly displays a five-star rating for the original Blair Witch movie, I was truly hoping to enjoy this movie. As the film went on, a dark and angry cloud formed within me, and I was infuriated by the complete lack of effort and creativity involved in the production of this movie. Yes, I understand how important it is to strike while the iron is hot and get a sequel into theaters while the original is still fresh. But surely it wouldn't have taken that much effort to pen a script a bit more enjoyable than this one.
As each ponderous scene draws to a close, you'll be praying that the next one contains anything of interest or excitement. You'll be waiting a long time. This entire film literally consists of these five unsavory people whining, drinking, yelling, acting spooked and just basically being annoying.
For some reason, we are subjected to a severely disjointed and confusing framework, as the story jumps ahead in time to a police interrogation, and then back again to the action at hand. (I use the word 'action' as lightly as possible.) The haphazard time frame of the movie literally kills any suspense at all, since halfway into the movie, we're already shown who all the survivors are!
What the original Blair Witch had in spades was a sense of dread. You don't often see that emotion conveyed in movies, but there it was. Not only does BW2 lack any sense of primal fear or mortal terror, but all the 'scare' scenes are the lowest form of horror movie fodder: the dreaded dream sequences! You know the drill - Something gory happens suddenly, and the next shot is of someone jolting upright in bed, clutching their chest, gasping and sweating. Here's a little tip to all you fledgling directors out there: Unless you're using a dream sequence to advance the plot, it's lazy and cheap to just use the device, especially if that's all you rely on for 90 minutes.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is a monumental disappointment, partially because of how fresh the original was, but mainly because the sequel could so easily have been a great movie. This movie could have strengthened the Blair Witch storyline into something that kept people coming back. Instead, the filmmakers went for the easy way out, and the result is a truly awful movie that is virtually impossible to enjoy.The Blair Witch Project was a film that truly divided movie audiences. The film's supporters drew attention to the dark and creepy atmosphere, the effective and disturbing use of the camera, and the overall originality of the project. Those who didn't care for it cite there being 'not enough action' or an unnecessarily abrupt conclusion. Whether you're a fan of the original or not, it's a safe bet you'll hate this lethargic, lazy and terminally dull sequel.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4528&reviewer=128
originally posted: 10/28/00 16:18:59