By Jakub Rochowicz
Making a sequel to a classic film can be tricky. Especially because, in most cases, classic movie do not need sequels. Of course, that does not mean that a good sequel to a classic movie cannot be made, as proved by the existence of such films as The Godfather II or Terminator II: Judgment Day. However, it is important to make sure that the sequel resembles the original movie, in order not to disappoint its fans. That is the lesson that the makers of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 have failed to understand.
Every fan of The Blair Witch Project is doomed to be disappointed by this picture. Unlike the original movie, which managed to terrify viewers all over the world with a tiny budget and amateur filming techniques, this flick, given a budget of $15 million, can only be described as a disaster. In other words, it is just as good as one would expect: a commercialized, unnecessary sequel made only in order to make money on the original name.
The movie begins similarly to The Blair Witch Project, with a bunch of people being interviewed. Only this time, instead of being interviewed on the Blair Witch (Elly Kedward) they discuss the original movie. It turns out that within the film’s reality, The Blair Witch Project is also a motion picture. We then find out that it has caused some huge interest in the town of Burkittsville, Maryland, making it frequently visited by the movie fans who want to explore the woods where the events from the film took place. Shortly after that, we are introduced to our protagonists: Stephen (a writer trying to do some research on the Blair Witch for a book he is writing), his pregnant girlfriend Tristen (who helps him with his research), Erica (a Wiccan), Kim (a gothic girl who apparently possesses psychic powers), and Jeff, a local tour guide. We quickly discover how unlikeable these characters are.
In the original Blair Witch Project film, the characters acted terrified and vulnerable, thus making the audience feel sorry for them. The famous close-up crying scene is probably the best example of that. In this film, however, the characters are obnoxious, and nothing about their acting or behavior makes the viewer sympathize with them. The only character who is not as odious as the rest is probably Tristen, however the fact that she is the only endurable character in the whole picture is overshadowed by how bland and generic she is. In fact, we only learn two things about her throughout the whole movie: one, she is Stephen’s girlfriend, and two, she is pregnant with him.
The film includes multiple pointless scenes, such as Tristen’s dream about drowning her baby, which is a poor attempt to make it more scary. The whole film is basically a combination of random scenes that don’t fit together and seem completely out of place. It is hard to summarize the movie’s plot, because it is overshadowed by countless subplots that are either unexplained or incomprehensible. There is a bizarre scene where Stephen and Erica start having sex, when suddenly she tears his stomach open with her bare hands. It then turns out that it was only happening in Stephen’s head. Was this vision caused by Stephen’s insanity, or was it something supernatural messing with his imagination? This is one of the many questions that will never be answered by the movie, and the scene is one of the many, many scenes that don’t build up to anything.
One of the very first scenes shows Jeff in a psychiatric hospital, where some weird experiments are being performed on. This scene reappears randomly, out of context, numerous times throughout the movie, but it is never explained what influence it has on the plot. Did these experiments drive Jeff insane? If so, did Jeff coincidently unite himself with a group of people that just happened to be as insane as him? And most of all were the protagonists really insane? During one of the movie’s big reveals, they discover that they killed another group of filmmakers in a ritualistic way. A hidden footage found on Jeff’s video tapes shows them having an orgy in a trance-like state, with Tristen apparently being the ring leader. But why were they doing it? Were they just mad, or did the Blair Witch have something to do with it? Later, when the tapes are examined by the police, the footage is nowhere to be found, so did they imagine it, or was the Blair Witch somehow operating the recordings? And was Tristen insane? The twist ending shows that she was terrified by the other group members’ insanity, but if she was not insane like them, how come she could see some of the “ghosts” as well? Does that mean the spirits were real? And was every moment of Tristen’s hysteria imagined by the rest of the group?
The movie does the same thing that most bad horror movies do, something that is the complete opposite of what the original film had to offer: It substitutes disgusting visuals for some actual suspense. It tries to disgust the viewer rather than genuinely scare them. The Blair Witch Project relied entirely on the viewer’s imagination, while this film, in an obvious attempt to be more marketable and less challenging for the audience, relies on clichés and revolting images that rarely have anything to do with the plot or even make sense.
In conclusion, this is just a very poor film, both as a sequel to The Blair Witch Project and as a stand-alone movie. It has multiple subplots that do not make sense and do nothing but distract from the general plot, which itself doesn’t make sense either. The ending twist only raises new questions instead of answering the ones that the viewers have been asking themselves. The atmosphere is nonexistent, and the characters are detestable. This film will be a disappointment for any fan of the original picture, as well as for anyone looking for a good movie.