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Film Review: Blair Witch 2 - The Book of Shadows

It would appear that a scarily bad sequel has crash-landed...

Let's be honest from the very outset - Blair Witch 2, sequel to one of the most profitable and talked about films of all time, exhibits many of the characteristics that make people, quite simply, hate a movie. It is frankly a waste of talent, money and viewing time. Getting straight down to business the crimes that this film commits can be broken down as follows:

Blair Witch 21) It completely abandons what made the first movie work. The Blair Witch Project was a truly decisive phenomenon. You either loved its movement from subtle discord to naked human terror, or you complained about its wobbly camera and lack of traditional set-pieces. However, there can be little doubting that its understated shocks stood out in a year when the multi-plexes were inundated with teenagers being ripped apart. Blair Witch 2 is a slasher movie which tries to maintain an ironic edge by having its characters acknowledge the impact of the first movie. It fails miserably, turning the film into a turgid misfire without any sense of plot logic or sustained menace.

2) The acting is C-movie standard. Jeffery Donovan has two expressions - drugged and angry. All sense of his character's menace, any degree of psychotic depth, is bulldozed by his amateurish ranting. Tristin Skyler, Stephen Baker and Erica Leerhson manage not to embarrass themselves, but also not leave any lasting impression on the audience, making it impossible to identify with their plight. Only Kim Director, as the Goth girl, rises above a risible script to inject some much needed comic relief. Nothing comes close to Heather Donoghue's disturbing breakdown.

3) The fact that Joe Berlinger was chosen to write and direct Blair Witch promised great things. In the film the idea of using mass hysteria as a back drop to the action is inspired, and the opening scenes commenting on the success of the prequel promised a thoughtful approach. Unfortunately, he then looses the plot big time. The mass hysteria is hardly mentioned, so what you get is a gang of inept twenty-somethings screaming at each other every 5 minutes. Leaving plot logic aside (why do they go right back into the woods when they know something may have happened the first time?), the dialogue is risible and the ending incomplete. The only good thing about the direction is Berlinger's point about the difference in perception between what we see around us, and what we see through video. Oh, and somebody should tell Berlinger that a horror film should be scary at least once.

Please, please, please avoid this film. Don't give Artisan the impetus to do another Blair Witch film, one which may finally bury the reputation of what was once an innovative and exciting movie.

Ian O'Sullivan

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