Book of Shadows: Blair Witch II

10/12/2015 08:47

Film: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch II

Year: 2000

Director: Joe Berlinger

Writer: Dick Beebe and Joe Berlinger

Starring: Jeffrey Donovan, Stephen Barker and Erica Leerhsen

 

Review:

In this sequel to The Blair Witch Project, we start by being shown different television programs saying how much of a phenomenon it has become. This film states that the mythology of the Blair Witch is real, but admits that the film was just a film. We also see that Burkittsville, Maryland has become a tourist attraction and the residents, despite if they want to or not, have begun to capitalize on it. We meet one such resident, played by Jeffrey Donovan.

Donovan makes tiki-men from sticks from the Black Hills; he sells dirt from the Rustin Parr ruins as well as t-shirts, coffee mugs and things to this effect. He states that he didn’t get to see the film when it opened, because he was in the hospital. We then see that he was in a mental hospital and I believe he is supposed to be one of the children who survived Rustin Parr and it has messed with his head.

Donovan runs a tour of the woods where the Blair Witch was filmed. This is actually his inaugural tour group. Sitting next to him is a man writing a book about the Blair Witch and whether it was history or hysteria, he is played by Stephen Barker Turner. Working with him is his girlfriend, played by Tristine Skyler, who is also pregnant. She does not want to keep the baby, but Turner really wants her to. She is torn. Also in the van is a practicing Wiccan, played by Erica Leerhsen.

They stop at the cemetery to pick up the last member of the group, a gothic woman played by Kim Director. She claims to be psychic. They stop off at a gas station to get beer and food. It should also be pointed out that we get brief flashes of things that we will see much later on as well. We also learn that a crime was committed at some point with Donovan, Turner and Director being accused of committing it.

Donovan brings a bunch of equipment out with them. He sets up a bunch of cameras and has camping gear. They are going to spend the night in the Rustin Parr ruins. The first odd thing is that there is a giant tree in the middle of the ruins, which wouldn’t make sense, since the house was built in the 1800s and the tree is much older than that. It would have been built around it.

The group then starts to party. They have a lot of beer and marijuana. They are having a good time until another tour group shows up. An argument ensues with the other group claiming the sheriff, played by Lanny Flaherty, gave them a permit to shoot footage there. Donovan calls them out stating that is not possible. To avoid a fight, Turner thinks quickly and tells them they saw something at Coffin Rock. The other group leaves.

The group continues to party to the point of blacking out. They wake up the next morning to find all of the cameras have been smashed and all of the work that Skyler and Turner did has been ripped up. Donovan believes it was the other group, but then accuses Director, because she claims to see where the tapes are. They are exactly where The Blair Witch Project tapes were found. They leave the woods when Skyler is bleeding.

It turns out that she had a miscarriage. Everyone goes back to Donovan’s so he can watch the tapes and figure out what happened. Things continue to get weirder and weirder where people start to see a little girl, they have strange markings on themselves and people black out for periods of time, not knowing what they did. The tapes are also not showing what happened to them during their blackout and the large tree is not there.

There is a mass murder at Coffin Rock, did this group commit it? Leerhsen disappears and is found dead in a closet, what happened to her? Director finds a bloody nail file that belonged to the clerk at the gas station, how did she get it? What is really going on?

This is an interesting sequel to The Blair Witch Project. This one is more of a traditional horror film, unlike its predecessor that went for the found footage. This film does do something similar that everything that happens is on tape, but the people that are doing them do not recall committing the acts. I really like this concept, because everything goes back to the first argument between Skyler and Turner. She believes that the Blair Witch is real and that some of the mythology may have been changed, there is still truth in it. Turner on the other hand believes it to be a mass hysteria by getting people together and let their fears take over. It is interesting, because this film becomes is there a supernatural force controlling them and making them do what they do, or is it a mass hysteria making them believe the former and they are just acting out on it. I will say that the acting isn’t bad, the story and concept are good as well.

Now I do have some issues though. The first issue being that the way the film is put together; it is a little bit disjointed. I do have to give them credit, because they are partially going for that, as keep the viewer confused until the reveal, which is in the police station. I also feel there were parts left in from a previous version of the film that do not have a place, like Donvan’s scenes in the hospital. We are informed that he was in a mental hospital, but seeing it is creepy even though it really has no bearing to progress the film forward.

With that said, I would recommend this film if you like mystery, psychology thrillers. It is not the best in this genre, but it does tie in the supernatural to decide if what we are seeing is influenced by it or by the group’s psychosis. The acting is decent for the most part while the story and concept are good. I did have some issues with the editing as it makes the film confusing, but not enough to ruin the film. If you liked the first one, I think this is an interesting concept and think you should give it a chance. If this film sounds good, I would also recommend it; if not then avoid this film.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10