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Overall Rating
2.03

Awesome: 8.97%
Worth A Look: 14.48%
Average: 8.28%
Pretty Bad: 7.59%
Total Crap60.69%

10 reviews, 85 user ratings


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Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Even worse than its predecessor, whiich is saying something."
1 stars

For all its flaws -- and there are many -- "Book of Shadows," the quickie sequel to 1999's runaway indie hit "The Blair Witch Project," has one key element in common with its predecessor: the gut-wrenching horror of people arguing with each other, on and on, pointlessly. (In my more fanciful moments, I suspect that the real secret of the first "Blair Witch"'s success was that it was an ooh-spooky version of "The Jerry Springer Show," all yammering confrontation without meaning.)

This sequel, which pretends the first Blair Witch was a fiction film that could have been based in fact, follows five twentysomethings into the barren woods of Burkittsville, where they mysteriously lose several hours of their lives. They wake up the next morning remembering nothing, though they know something has happened; the video cameras positioned all around their camp have caught teasing glimpses of this something, but meanwhile the quintet occupy a lot of screen time quarreling over what the footage means.

Not much, as it turns out. Book of Shadows is meant to be a metaphysical, guess-what's-real head game for the age of the Avid, but in essence it's just a feature-length retread of the famously nagging final shot of the first Blair Witch. A movie can lap-dance you with the unknown for only so long before it eventually has to come across; the sequel does, but it's less satisfying than dispiriting. The movie works up to a big revelation that doesn't surprise anyone; did the filmmakers lose sight of their own audience, which is hip enough to catch on?

The group of five -- tour guide Jeffrey Donovan, indignant Wiccan Erica Leerhsen, sneering goth chick Kim Director, and troubled couple Tristan Skyler and Stephen Barker Turner (who are working on a book about the Blair Witch legend) -- head into the bleak woods, hoping to catch traces of something, if indeed there is something. One good idea thrown away in Book of Shadows is that few people really take the Blair Witch thing all that seriously; the site of the famous murders is a kitschy tourist trap, luring curiosity seekers from all over the world (as the actual shooting locations of the original movie did). For a while, Book of Shadows seems interested in deconstructing all the myth and hype that gathered around The Blair Witch Project and then starting fresh. It goes stale fast, though.

After the black-out, during which all the camera equipment is destroyed but the tapes are mysteriously deposited in the same spot where Heather's tapes were reportedly found, the group heads back to Jeffrey's isolated hang-out in the woods, where he sells Blair Witch memorabilia and maintains a state-of-the-art video studio with stolen equipment. Everyone sits down to watch the tapes, which reveal, little by little, what happened that night. Individually, they also have weird dreams and visions that seem connected to the long-ago Blair Witch murders. After a while the inevitable finger-pointing begins. Something strange happened, and the Wiccan is responsible! No, wait, it's the goth chick! No, obviously it's the tour guide!

This gets old as quickly as you'd expect (at least the quarreling over the lost map in the first Blair Witch didn't feel quite so much like a bad Twilight Zone episode). The director, Joe Berlinger (who cowrote the script with Dick Beebe, writer of 1999's House on Haunted Hill remake, which had similar freak-out scenes), comes from documentaries -- brilliant ones, actually, the best-known being the Paradise Lost films he co-directed. Here he seems to be trying something so deep-dish with a story so shallow that the depth dries out. Berlinger appears to be saying that reality as experienced by the characters (and as captured by Berlinger's film camera) is false, and that the true reality can only be seen on the unforgiving medium of video. He blurts this out when he has a character say something like "Film lies; video is truth." Yet when we finally see the videos in their full Dionysian horror (or what passes for it), we don't know why it's the truth. Once again, that devilish unseen Blair Witch is messing around with people's heads. She sure seems to like to pick on wannabe documentary filmmakers, though; it's as if she wanted to work her evil only on those in a position to record her witchery. I'd say you have nothing to worry about in the woods of Burkittsville as long as you don't have a camcorder with you.

I am far from a fan of the first Blair Witch, which turned out, rather embarrassingly for its admirers, to have been ripped off from the far better shot-on-video horror project The Last Broadcast. And even before that, movies like Cannibal Holocaust (from 1978, mind you) dealt with the "group of documentary filmmakers met their doom and here's their footage" premise. But at least Blair Witch had an air of otherworldly strangeness about it; the hand-held camera pulled you into the position of being with the three protagonists (whether you wanted to be with these three whiners was another story). Book of Shadows has no such you-are-there hook; we're just observers here, and what we observe is the usual hack and slash, served to us in grisly flashes.

After a while, the movie becomes ugly and unpleasant, and finally just irritating. The arguing goes on and on, until you just want someone to die so you can go home already. If Joe Berlinger wanted to break into narrative filmmaking, he should've picked a film with a narrative.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4528&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/26/06 13:52:25
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User Comments

8/07/14 David Hollingsworth not even worth it 1 stars
7/05/14 Dane Youssef It's just a mainstream conventional slasher version of the first. 1 stars
11/29/09 Steve I kept waiting for something to happen and then the movie ended. 1 stars
10/13/09 Caitlin I quite liked it actually. The flashes were unnessary, but it was deep. It tried... 4 stars
4/01/08 Clark Flawed, but still a lot better than many horror flicks we see today... 4 stars
9/22/06 Pritchett Not NERALY as bad as everyone says. Actually, a pretty good little horror film. 4 stars
8/09/06 Doreen I see why they stopped after this one! 1 stars
6/15/06 Garrett If you actually understand it. You will like it. 4 stars
4/25/06 Moore Meloncholy Popping bloody pimples have more fright and entertainment value then this crap. 1 stars
1/02/06 cody a movie with kinded interesting story and beliveable characters, but everthing else stunk 2 stars
9/25/05 D Buckley What the hell is going on... 1 stars
8/18/05 ES Rebecca- don't forget the wizard of OZ that's got an evil witch too! this movie stinks 1 stars
7/09/05 Rebecca I tried counting the errors and stereotypes about Wicca. I lost count and threw up. 1 stars
4/26/05 Indrid Cold A Hollywood cash grab that is notable only because it shows how great the 1st one was. 2 stars
3/13/05 Ronin Anyone who likes this crap more than the 1st BWP is a braindead 12 years old simpleton. 2 stars
9/17/04 jeff frank better than the first but still pretty bad 2 stars
8/03/04 Anthony G This movie eats shit form carl winslow's fat black ass 1 stars
7/28/04 G not as bad as 1st but still shit 1 stars
6/30/04 Mike All.you.haters.are.utterly.pathetic.this.movie.exponentially.beat.the.first.one. 5 stars
6/13/04 Jack Bourbon Dumb as it is, I like this movie. I also like the chunky girl. 4 stars
4/29/04 X They should have a bad movie burning 1 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt A wicked mindfuck! MUCH better than the awful original! This one is a disturbing blast! 5 stars
1/06/04 George great!!! 5 stars
1/03/04 J All that gore wasted this movie is retarded! 1 stars
12/10/03 redpjas a great film I got scared 5 stars
11/25/03 Thiago Not really as bad as you think. Check it out. 3 stars
11/06/03 redpjas A GREAT FILM 5 stars
10/13/03 Jim Better than the first one. At least there was a plot. 3 stars
9/18/03 Samuel Justus way better than the first will ever be!! 5 stars
6/14/03 Alice Well, money changes everything, this is a good example of that. 1 stars
4/15/03 Jack Bourbon Nice collection of amateur tits and ass for this one. I really dug the chunky one. 5 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby Ambitious but flat-out terrible. 1 stars
1/26/03 sam fisher it fucking rules because it has naked people in it! 5 stars
12/27/02 Charles Tatum What a dumb idea 1 stars
9/25/02 Laurian Diaconescu It made no sense. (If you wannna se my REAL rating, read this backwards! Just kidding.) 3 stars
7/29/02 Jon At least it was watchable (read: steady camera) 2 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 much better than the first movie 4 stars
7/08/02 Croweater What the fuck...? This really, REALLY, sucked 1 stars
5/19/02 john waite i shit my pants..when i realised i payed money to go see this 1 stars
4/17/02 Veronica Foxx (The Raven-Haired Temptress) Wow! I've never seen a sequel fall SOOOOO far in quality from the first. 1 stars
3/31/02 Film Guy one little Fucked up movie 1 stars
3/07/02 Dave MacDougall How do you know if you have a low IQ? You like this more than the original. 1 stars
3/06/02 Brittany James Flawed by ambiguity: Do witches hafta eat, shit, and die or eat shit- and die? 3 stars
2/23/02 Jenny Tullwartz Best redeeming feature -- It's NOTHING like the original! 3 stars
1/24/02 Andrew Carden It Took The Spooky Story, Added Teen Sex and Violence, and Got This Tired Movie. 2 stars
1/23/02 chris www.midfirecords.com id have left if my girlfriend didnt make me stay 1 stars
12/05/01 john linton roberson A Wiccan is shocked that she'd dance naked in the woods. That's all you need to hear. 1 stars
10/30/01 officer412/l YOU WILL SHIT YOUR PANTS BUT FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. 1 stars
10/16/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Starts off pretty good, but it ends up making NO SENSE AT ALL! 2 stars
10/01/01 sarah hey i thought it was pretty cool 4 stars
9/09/01 Jason The freakiest stuff I've ever seen. 5 stars
8/22/01 Erica I personally didn't like the first movie, but I have to say this one had potential! 5 stars
6/12/01 Crisis Management Jesus, again... Chef ADogg, you must be a fucking retard, seriously. 1 stars
6/02/01 Mephisto Worth watching for the goddesses Erica and Kim! 2 stars
5/25/01 The Moorhen S U C K S - Say it with me boys and girls.... S U C K S 1 stars
5/17/01 Jack McBee It was fucking scary. I never wanna go to a haunted house again. 5 stars
5/08/01 Rodney Muterspaw would have been better if it wasnt the Blair Witch sequel 4 stars
4/13/01 LiL This movie was a pointless piece of shit 1 stars
4/10/01 Gary This is probably the worst and most dumb sequel ever. Not even remotely scary! 1 stars
3/27/01 Jesse L It had a few moments near the end but they were not worth it 2 stars
3/19/01 Kilroy It's not what you think it is. It's a Psychological Thriller. Excellent. See it and decide. 4 stars
3/04/01 Rico Suavea I LOVE THIS MOVIE 5 stars
3/02/01 Kook Cheap exploitation of gullible consumers. 1 stars
2/28/01 lost mind the only good part is at the end when I guy said ''Thats wong'' SOME BODY F*CKED WITH THIS 4 stars
2/24/01 Eric Leehsmine It was so much better than the first one 5 stars
2/12/01 Richard Wright An unusual horror film, scary in a different way . Panned by people with no brains. 3 stars
12/07/00 Stuntman laughably bad, makes PSI Factor look like Goosebumps 1 stars
11/25/00 frank c oooohhhh how scary@!! not!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
11/14/00 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Wasted 2 hours of my life on the first one and two more on this schlocky piece of shit. 1 stars
11/11/00 Bill Farquar Most horrible piece of shit ever made, complete waste of time and money! 1 stars
11/09/00 BW2SUCKS It's like a bad episode of the X-files 1 stars
11/08/00 Matthew Bartley Not as bad as I thought it would be although nowhere near as good as the first 4 stars
11/04/00 Dan Terrible, trashy shit. 1 stars
11/03/00 InfiL00p Was good until the last half an hour, then it just started sucking ass. 4 stars
11/02/00 JOHNNY rather take a dump then see this again... 1 stars
11/02/00 Losifer It really really sucked. The entire theater was laughing instead of shivering. Seriously. 1 stars
11/02/00 :93: I liked it, then again, I like horror movies 4 stars
11/01/00 Ground Zero Cliche, absurd, and unoriginal. Need we say more? 2 stars
10/31/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble Run my pretties, Run for the exits before its too late!!!! 1 stars
10/31/00 kim boyd BW1 Formula: Trapped in Woods, Relate to their deep fears, everyone dies. BW2 misses al 3 1 stars
10/30/00 Ytsejam It had to take a lot of work to make this suck as bad as it did. 1 stars
10/29/00 finalfight this is not a real movie... it's a horror movie. Don't expect academy awards achievements 4 stars
10/28/00 bullit17 A "horror" movie with no horror and very little suspense. Very disappointing. 2 stars
10/28/00 Jeff D OK, illogical script, petulant acting. But the concept of perception vs. reality is trippy 4 stars
10/27/00 AM Radio The Hair Clit Project...this movie blows. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Oct-2000 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jan-2001

UK
  N/A

Australia
  11-Jan-2001 (M)




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