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"Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows"

Directed by Joe Berlinger.
Written by Dick Beebe and Joe Berlinger.
Starring Kim Director and Jeffrey Donovan.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  10/26/00


There are two kinds of people in this world:

  • those that saw “The Blair Witch Project” and thought it was scary as all hell and one of the best horror movies ever.

  • those that saw “The Blair Witch Project” and thought that it was one of the dumbest, most overhyped movies in the history of cinema. 

Through statistically unsignificant analysis last year, I figured out this simple conclusion:  if you saw “BWP” in the first week of its release, you thought it was great; if you didn't, you thought it sucked.  Pure and simple.  (You may remember that for the first week, it was only showing in about 100 theaters, and then it went national and everything went downhill the following weekend.)

I consider myself lucky in that I saw it on its second day of limited release, when it was only showing in about 100 theaters.  Chuck “The Verb” Longer and I went to a tiny theater downtown and, in a packed house with chilly air conditioning, watched the first “BWP” while it was still in the “is this for real?” phase of its existence.  I still remember walking out of the theater that day, thinking it was both the best horror movie I had ever seen and as scared as I had ever been as an adult.  Chuck and I wanted to hold each other during the movie but couldn't, since we had to sit separately.  So, I did the next best thing and grabbed hold of the girl sitting next to me, and we both were panting in fear by the time Mike and Heather go into the house at the end of the first film.

New Bellview member Tricia “I'm Hot, But Not Bothered” Ocampo hooked me up with some free passes for a pre-screening, so The Verb, Keith “Money” Karem, Sarah “Pasty, Burnt Ass” Johnson and I hit the Mazza Gallerie for the showing.  Note the word free.  Anyway, I figured that sequelitis had to come sometime, so my expectations for “Blair Witch 2” were low.  First, the movie has had a complete Hollywood makeover, complete with special effects, music (the first movie has no musical soundtrack) and an actual budget.  Second, I assumed that cash money was the real goal of making this film, not “new artistic realms” that might drive other movie franchises.

Well, I was right and wrong.  “BW2” suffers a lot of problems, but it does do a good job of exploring some of the twisted history of where the Blair Witch comes from and explaining much of the backstory left out of the first movie.  And, it is pretty sick at times, being so insane that you just wonder what sick, random bastard wrote the script.  But clearly, this is a Hollywood horror movie, so a few folks have to die in a real bad way.

The plot is actually pretty interesting:  the movie follows five individuals that were intrigued by the history of the first blair witch film and re-enacts the events of these individuals as they go to Burkittsville, Maryland to find out if this Blair Witch thing is for real.  By telling us that the characters in the movie have seen the first film, director Joe Herlinger gets to play a bit more with some in-jokes about the cast and phenomenon of the first movie while using it as a fictional springboard for the activities of his sequel.  Anyway, the five head off into the woods and, after a drug-and-drinking binge their first night in the woods, they wake up to find...some surprises.

It gets weird from there, but I will let you check it out and get the details.  Needless to say, though, there are some trying moments for the moviegoer, especially as you sit in your seat waiting for some more random bloody flashback scenes or visions to occur.  And, this movie has plenty of them.  A couple of folks walked out of our screening, clearly shaken by some of the knife-twisting that occurs during some early gutting sequences.  Yes, I said gutting sequences.

The best thing about “BW2”?  It has got to be the sheriff!  One of the worst acting performances of our time turns into one of the funniest characters of the year.  Among my favorite lines was when he was talking to a bunch of Burkittsville tourists about the Blair Witch phenomenon:  “There ain't no GOD DAMN WITCH in this town!  Now, get outta here!” and, “They edited your!”  The director must have told this guy to act as backwoods as possible, with a great faux-southern accent and a large use of the words “God dammit!”  Funny stuff.

Speaking of bad acting, though, “BW2” features five no-name actors in the main parts and all of them have probably made their last movie.  To say that they are bad actors would be a disservice; they are simply without talent.  Zero.  Nada.  Oh-fer.  I know that the production called for five no-name actors to play these parts, but this is shameful.  So is the random, gratuitous ending that is slapped on this movie and felt a little too convenient for my tastes.  The movie's biggest problem, though, was its constant indecision over whether this film should be a comedy, or a horror movie—the movie walked the line too many times and because it tried to be both, it accomplished neither.  Hopefully, this franchise's third movie (a prequel is apparently in the works) will be more the horror route than the comedy route.

This one is a tough call, but as Chuck said after the movie, this one is a Matinee minus because I don't think you should go out of your way to see it while it is still in theaters.  It just is not very consistent and it is a perfectly acceptable viewing on video.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09