Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

on October 27, 2000 by Christine James
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With the unenviable task of following up a film that redefined hype, “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” doesn't do much to extricate itself from the inevitable backlash. The mirror-within-a-mirror setup has five youths trekking to the woods of Burkittsville, Md., for a macabre tour of the locales of the original movie, much to the consternation of the local townfolk who are tired of fans running rampant in search of paranormal encounters. But while everyone in the “documentary” segments acknowledges that “The Blair Witch Project” was a work of fiction, the characters are strongly divided about the verity of the mythology of Ellie Kedward, the allegedly murderous crone cast out by villagers some 100 years earlier, left to die in the forest. A nubile new-age wiccan (Erica Leerhsen) asserts that Kedward was a good witch, and plans to “commune” with her spirit; a bland couple (Tristen Skylar and Stephen Turner) writing a book about the Blair Witch phenomenon feels that group hysteria is at the root of the mythos; a goth Debi Mazar clone (Kim Director) is along for the ride because she thought “the movie was cool”; and spunky ex-insane asylum inmate Jeffrey Donovan is only concerned with capitalizing on the legend.

After camping out at the site of the house where Heather, Josh and Mike from the first film supposedly met their end, the quintet awake to find their video cameras smashed to bits, but discover the tapes stashed where Heather's footage was said to have been found. They nervously retreat to Jeff's house to examine the videos, hoping to discover what happened while they slept. Creepy subliminal images and gaps in the time code only deepen the mystery, but with Jeff's high-tech (largely stolen) equipment, they scrutinize the film until they uncover some disturbing revelations. At the same time, they begin to suspect that something evil has followed them home.

This all disintegrates into a predictable round of in-fighting and mutual mistrust as the five are manipulated by a magic to which no rules seem to apply. To be confronted with this illogical brand of sorcery is literally crazy-making: The wanton distortion of reality is akin to lunacy, and while this holds a certain psychological horror, it's a disappointingly unimaginative, goosebump-bereft copout. Starring Jeffrey Donovan, Kim Director, Erica Leerhsen, Tristen Skylar and Stephen Turner. Directed by Joe Berlinger. Written by Joe Berlinger and Dick Beebe. Produced by Bill Carraro, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. An Artisan release. Horror/Thriller. Rated R for violence, language, sexuality and drug use. Running time: 90 min

Tags: Blair Witch, sequel, Jeffrey Donovan, Kim Director, Erica Leerhsen, Joe Berlinger, Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez, horror, mockumentary
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