Blair Witch 2:
Book of Shadows
Blair Witch 2 Book of Shadows By Mike Z. I’ll admit it. The Blair Witch Project scared me. As a filmmaker working within the genre of films that appear to be real, I was frightened that the Blair Witch concept would doom the approach to being considered a “one trick pony...
I’ll admit it. The Blair Witch Project scared me. As a filmmaker working within the genre of films that appear to be real, I was frightened that the Blair Witch concept would doom the approach to being considered a “one trick pony.”
The phenomenal box office profits of the film ensured that the creators of The Blair Witch Project would try to replicate their success. Certainly, they have attempted to do so with the TV series “Freaky Links” and now with the Blair Witch sequel, Book of Shadows.
“Freaky Links” misses the mark completely as it tries to recapture the immediacy of the camcorder footage from The Blair Witch Project. The show’s main character points his camera at everything, providing incessant and gratuitous intrusions of video shot. The resulting overexposed footage is shoehorned into what is essentially an X-Files /Buffy the Vampire Slayer rip-off. Based on that misuse of the camera, I had my reservations about the way Book of Shadows might turn out. The only good thing that I heard in advance was that Joe Berlinger was the director.
Berlinger’s Paradise Lost is a great documentary. It skillfully pits the fundamentalist community of the parents of three murdered children against the more worldly, lower income trailer park kids accused of a “bizarre Satanic cult” killing. Balancing the introduction of evidence during the trial with interviews of the people involved gave the film an ambiguous trajectory that never really closed the case in one direction or other. By the end of the film you see that objective truth is often difficult to determine. The authorities, the legal system, and the community can’t always comprehend the evil deeds people are capable of doing.
I was excited at the prospect of seeing what Joe Berlinger would to do with the Blair Witch concept. What I didn’t expect to see was a repeat of Paradise Lost. Berlinger co-wrote the script for Book of Shadows and reworks many of the same themes from his earlier documentary. There is the plight of the misunderstood teenage Wicca follower, the blood-thirsty media response to acts of violence, and police investigators who explain extraordinary deviant acts with the most banal explanations and motives.
In the end, Book of Shadows wasn’t so much about the elusive Blair Witch as it was a filmic juggling act, demonstrating that people might perform murderous satanic acts without even realizing that they were doing anything wrong! In Paradise Lost the viewer isn’t clearly led to a determination of the innocence or guilt of the defendants. There are times when you are searching the eyes of the two accused teenagers, trying to decide whether their protests of innocence are authentic as they are being framed in a real life witch hunt, or if they are merely lying to try and protect their freedom. Book of Shadows has it both ways, allowing the evil deeds to be performed by innocent participants. That waffling, along with the everything-and-the-kitchen sink postmodern horror movie style of including incongruities and bizarre twists into an already muddied plotline, makes this new film a major disappointment.
There was one scary thing about Book of Shadows. I saw it on the opening weekend, and I was the only one in the theater. That should really terrify the people who were hoping to make a killing on this movie.
Back to Issue 12