Book of Shadows: Blair Witch II (2000)
Directed by Joe Berlinger

Starring Anja Baron Deb Burgoyne Peggy K. Chang Pete Burris

What a disappointment. This one almost ranks down there with "Exorcist 2" as greatest horror letdown in history.

There was some hope that "Blair Witch 2" would actually be a decent flick because it`s director is known for making excellent, horrifying documentaries, most notably "Paradise Lost," a true crime film about allegations of satanic, ritual murder in Bill Clinton`s home state of Arkansas.

But Berlinger wasn`t given much of a script to work with, even though the writer of this movie (Dick Beebe), wrote the very good "House on Haunted Hill" remake. Despite everything, the movie has some moments, including some bizarre satanic/pagan ritual scenes a little reminiscent of "The Blood on Satan`s Claw." What it lacks is a story. Here`s the plot: After the release of the first movie, a craze has naturally erupted around the town of Burkittsville, where the events of Part 1 took place. "Blair Witch 2" isn`t completely clear on whether, in its universe, events of Part 1 were total fiction or fact. It seems like an amalgamation of both.

The best scenes in the film take place in the forest, where a group of tourists led by a guide (who just got out of a mental institution) are camping out in Blair Witch country. They black out for a few hours and when they wake up, strange things start happening. They see each other doing weird things-like eating birds or scratching one another-but when they rub their eyes, things are suddenly back to normal!

Yeah. That`s a pretty stupid, old-school horror trick. It`s just about the only scare tactic this film lives on until its climax, which is interesting but nothing worth writing grandma about. Where Berlinger went really wrong was taking the characters out of the forest and into the home of the crazy tour guide. First off, none of these characters know one another (they all met on the Internet). Why would they spend the night at the home of this crazy tour guide? Wouldn`t some of them get a motel room?

Another problem: Why didn`t they call the cops when things got weird in this guys place? Gaping plot holes like this kept creeping into this film as it got closer and closer to its climax. The best moments were the first 10 minutes-which basically spoofed the craze surrounding "The Blair Witch Project"-and the last 20 minutes. But it`s not enough.

This film was cranked out awfully fast. No one could have predicted the success of "Blair Witch" Part 1 and obviously Artisan Entertainment was itching to cash in with a sequel, ASAP. Well I`m sure "Blair Witch 2" will wind up having a stellar opening weekend, but it`ll sink shortly after that, once word gets around. It`s totally inferior to some of the other horror gems that have yet to get a distributor in the U.S., such as "The Convent."

The directors of the first Blair Witch--Daniel Myrick and Eduardo SŠnchez--were only listed as executive producers of this turkey. Too bad they weren`t more involved. Trying to be clever like the first movie, the characters have the same names as the actors. Who cares? This movie doesnít pretend to be a documentary anyway.

So how would one rank this movie, which received one heck of a lot of press attention upon its release? Well, itís not quite as bad as "Exorcist 2." Letís just say itís at about the level of a decent "Friday the 13th" film. Heck, at least thatís somethiní!

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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