Saturday, October 27, 2012

Second Chance Cinema: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Welcome to Second Chance Cinema.  This ongoing series will feature Scott or myself revisiting an infamously terrible film we only saw once (preferably long ago) or haven’t seen in a long time.  I’m starting this one with a film I have notoriously disliked over the years – Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.  I haven’t seen this one since seeing it in the theater EXACTLY 12 years ago today (convenient timing, eh?).  I was big time soured leaving the theater and haven’t looked back since.  A podcast that frequently haunts my headphones, Attack of the Killer Podcast (, inspired me to pick this one.  Their Facebook page asked for opinions of what some of the worst horror sequels of all time was and I named Book of Shadows.  They all pretty much disagreed and felt it was an underrated film.  Okay, without further adieu, lets dig into this.

Where was I at in life when I first saw this film?

Fall 2000.  This is 18 year old Brandon in his freshman year of college.  This guy thinks he’s a film expert, and amongst most of his peers, he is.  But, he’s got a lot of learning to do.  A lot more than he likely thinks he does.  Brandon seemingly thinks Full Metal Jacket is only half a good film, plays a lot of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and watches Jackass and MTV’s Fear.  Freaks and Geeks has come and gone and he fits the criteria of people who are to blame for its short lived existence.

I was a fan of the original film, not an obsessed fan like apparently people were in the sequel.  I went in unsure if it really even needed a sequel and questioning if making it a standard film was the right move.  My friend James and I went to see Book of Shadows on opening night.  We were highly disappointed at a film that snoozed its way through to a twist ending that it didn’t earn.  What in the hell as the Book of Shadows?  James and I immediately called a radio station that night promoting the film and told them they really should stop because it sucked.  I claimed for years that the final line of the film described how I felt after watching it-“This is fucking bullshit”

18 years old Brandon’s grade in 2000 - F

So now, 12 years later, here I am viewing a film I vowed never to watch again.

Blair Witch 2 is definitely a dated movie.  It reeks of late 90s/early 2000s.  Instead of found footage, we get the dramatization angle.  So essentially we have a movie based off of a “real” event that happens because of a reaction to a film that claimed to be a “real” event.  The soundtrack, lighting, edits are incredibly MTV inspired and almost feels like they made it.  The film actually felt like a straight to video movie.  Looking at it, its hard to believe as a theatrical release, it looked so cheap.

The cheapness is ever-present throughout.  We only have 2 main sets, the middle of the woods and the always cool in the late 90s abandoned and run down factory/warehouse that Jeff lives in.  How the hell did he get this place?  A lot of the film really has no action, but is intercut with quick snippets of the coffin rock murder later in the movie.  It also cuts back and forth from a police investigation, taking away any sort of surprise with events that happen later.  I don’t know much about the production of this movie, but I’m betting the murder cuts and interrogation stuff were added post production, because what its interrupting is pretty damn boring.  Just a lot of “what’s going on?”  “I don’t know” “I wanna know what happened”. 

Aside from boring, the film gets off to a very rough start.  The first-third of the film kind of feels like a tutorial on Wicca.  Or trying to send the message that Wiccas are people too.  I’m willing to bet they barely knew shit about them, but Wicca was trending back then, so it’d be cool to have that AND a goth character.  Anyway, there’s this campfire scene where everyone gets drunk and shares geeky inside baseball Blair Witch Project jokes and speculation.  The scene feels very phony and disingenuous. Its very forced and the dialogue is borderline obnoxious (especially when they run into the opposing tour group).  I had a very hard time getting through the scene.

The film itself is based around what could be a very good idea, just not seen all the way through.  With a better director and maybe some people with more artistic flair involved, this could have been decent.  Of the cast, Kim Director actually gives a pretty solid performance.  Everyone else, including Jeff Donovan, are pretty subpar and very unlikeable.  Had this film not been rushed trying to cash in, we might have had something.  It does feel like a rushed film and smells a little of postproduction interference.  Its got a twist that might have been cooler had the film earned it.  Maybe the problem was that the makers had this in mind first, but struggled to build something solid around it.

So…was it “fucking bullshit”?  This is better than I gave it credit for initially.  But not that much better.  I don’t’ have any desire to see this thing again and I’m never going to recommend it to anybody.  Its still poor, on its own or as a sequel.  There seems to have been a good idea in place early on, but through its execution, it fell on its face.  And…what IS the Book of Shadows????  I still don’t know!!!

2012 Brandon’s Grade – D+

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1 comment:

Insane Mike said...

Just read the article. Good points. But for some reason the film works for me. Cool that our show inspired you to go back and rewatch it though.


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