Jeff is a Blair Witch superfan (who isn’t?) who takes a tour group into the woods only to find his own night of terrors. Returning to the real world they soon find they’ve brought the witch’s powers back with them. Bum bum bum. Can they stop the witch and get their sanity back before it’s too late? Find out in… Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.
How?! Jeff is a local of Burkittsville, Maryland who becomes obsessed with the Blair Witch legend (and all the money it can make him) following the smash success of The Blair Witch Project (ooo, very meta of you). Expanding on his business he organizes a tour of key sites for Wiccan Erica, goth Kim, and Stephen and Tristan who research mythology. They tromp into the woods and set up a whole bunch of cameras at one of sites while directing another group away. After a night of partying the group awakens to find all their equipment and research destroyed with some tapes hidden away. Tristan, who is pregnant, begins to have cramps and they rush her to the hospital. Stephen and her are clearly upset and decide to temporarily crash at Jeff’s while Tristan recovers. When they get to Jeff’s house he pores over the tapes they found, but a huge chunk of time is missing and it reveals very little. Tristan begins to act erratically and everyone is JUST A LITTLE ON EDGE, OK. This goes on for a while as everyone hallucinates children and witches and shit. Soon things get really nuts when they see on TV that the other tour group was gruesomely murdered at Coffin Rock. The main suspects? You guessed it, Jeff and the gang. Oh no! They are freaking out when suddenly they realize they need to play the tapes backwards. There they see footage of themselves in a fugue state engaging in a night of debauchery and mayhem. Tristan is totally off her rocker at this point and more or less goads Stephen into killing her. The film ends with the three survivors getting arrested for murder and all the tapes they have revealing their guilt all through the power of the Blair Witch. Bwahahaha. THE END.
Why?! Hmmm, I didn’t consider this question. Clearly our protagonists mostly want to get paid and laid and see some spooky Blair Witch action. The Witch herself though? My interpretation is this: she was falsely persecuted by the townspeople for being evil (not for being a witch, mind you, as she was a witch, but the townspeople wrongly assumed that she was evil because of the religion she practiced) and so her revenge for this wrongdoing is to manipulate innocent people into committing crimes. You do have to credit her tenacity in this case in also providing manipulated footage so that the people involved are arrested/committed. Really took to technology pretty well for a witch from the 18th century.
Who?! There are a number of archived news stories about the smash hit Blair Witch at the beginning of the film (including Roger Ebert), but two newscasters showed their acting chops by filming original news segments for the film. That is Chuck Scarborough (who seems to do that somewhat often) and Kurt Loder. Really showing a sign of the times with that classic MTV News segment.
What?! I really love when there is a product in the film that really says something about the people making it or the setting. This time it’s almost immediately apparent that someone involved in production really loved their Pete’s Wicked Ale. The characters in this film literally can’t get enough of that dang Wicked Ale and even head out on a liquor run to specifically pick up another delicious six pack. Must have been the curse of the Blair Witch because unfortunately they closed in 2011 and so we can’t enjoy our own Pete’s Wicked Ale while enjoying Blair Witch 2.
Where?! Clear A setting in this one as Burkittsville, Maryland became larger than life with the first film’s release. It’s a super tiny town (~100 people) and so it’s kinda weird to think how traumatic and weird it must have been to have the film make things go crazy. They had a lot of trouble with signs being stolen and then when the newest film was released not that long ago they preemptively blocked off roads and took down signs to deter the tourists.
When?! This takes place in November 1999, which makes sense with the film being released in 2000… assuming that it was supposed to also be a found footage film. Kinda funny in that this would mean this would have occurred only two months after the film left theaters… Jeff truly was ahead of the game there. Too bad it ended in murder and mayhem. B.
It feels like we’ve been searching for Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and finally found it. This film is so terrible that it feels like we’re finally home (and what better way to celebrate that special Halloween/Thanksgiving interlude). It is a misguided effort to capitalize on a smash hit and single-handedly destroyed any chance of a franchise. I’d even argue that the first film was a perfect set up for a franchise a la Paranormal Activity and yet they dropped the ball. On top of that they have all this backstory for exactly why there would be cameras everywhere ready to catch each moment of terror and yet… nope, not even a found footage film. Seems like someone (or something ooooo spooky) removed that at the last minute. It is scarily terrible in a perfect BMT way. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Remember when you could make a sequel to a film that was orders of magnitude worse than its predecessor and riddled with perplexing decisions and it didn’t just get hidden away on some niche streaming platform? Those were the days, let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I don’t think the preview does justice to the film at all. If you read the preview you could be forgiven for incorrectly assuming this film, like the original, is found footage. The director is a famous documentary director, and there is oddly not very much indication in the reviews either. Only by watching the trailer do you then go “oh … I’m watching actors walking around on a set this time.” That’s when I started to get excited and understood why this film is so reviled. What were my expectations? Pure lunacy. What producers take a successful found footage film and then make a non-found footage sequel? There is no explanation for this.
The Good – I think there is a tiniest kernel of a good idea hidden in here. The idea of a group of people getting haunted by a ghost and (very obviously) being made to murder people all while the events they experience themselves feel like a normal haunting. That feeling of “wait, am I losing my mind?” That is it though. I really was wracking my brain trying to think of anything else I enjoyed in the film. It doesn’t help that literally every actor in the film was really really bad. Best Bit: The idea of franchising a popular found footage horror film.
The Bad – Oh boy. It is hard to even think about where to start with this. Why not make this a found footage film? The original is quite effective with maybe the best ever raison d’etre for found footage ever (more on that in a later section). This seems like it was definitely supposed to be half found footage, and then the producers pulled the rug out from under it. In the end it ends up being a very generic horror film, with three separate scenes that rival Slender Man Goes to the Library for unintentional comedy. Not only did I not find this movie scary, I actively thought it was amusing. The acting top to bottom is just really really terrible, and the flashbacks destroyed any tension the film could have had since, you know … you see that most of the cast survives to be prosecuted for several (off screen) murders. This is, and I’m not exaggerating, one of the very worst horror films I have ever seen. Fatal Flaw: So not-scary it went around and became a comedy.
The BMT – I think this might go down in history as the greatest example of a production company taking something that should have produced a near unlimited supply of money, start running with it, step on their own dick, and destroy the franchise with one catastrophically bad sequel. It is actually genuinely amazing how little money the people who owned the rights to Blair Witch managed to make off of that franchise in the long run. Just look at Paranormal Activity for what could have been. In that way it is a huge milestone in bad movie (and thus BMT) history. Did it meet my expectations? It exceeded them. Never have I seen such a bad attempt at a sequel and even weeks later it continues to boggle the mind.
Roast-radamus – Pretty good Setting as a Character (Where?) for Maryland because the original movie exists in the world of the sequel and so the forest there has become a tourist attraction of sorts. Is it a MacGuffin (Why?)? I think so. The ghost of the original film is very much the goal of multiple groups of people, and the arrogance in not respecting the power of the witch is their downfall. That’s a classic MacGuffin trope in my opinion (very Raiders of the Lost Ark). This is probably one of my top BMT films of the year. It is just too funny not to consider.
StreetCreditReport.com – I don’t even need to look at the lists to know this has crazy cred. But I will anyways. It is mentioned (alongside Battlefield Earth, prestigious) in this list by CNN (now on a janky website). And then it just had to make this list of the worst sequels! Very nice Vox, I very much enjoy those graphics. That I think makes the case for why this film is one of the worst of all time: it takes something that was pretty great, and then almost immediately turns around and ruins it. That’s impressive stuff.
You Just Got Schooled – It may be shocking to learn I had never seen The Blair Witch Project before … or maybe not, I have mentioned that I find horror films spooky scary in general. Anyways, I finally got around to watching this. And it is, even for a person who doesn’t generally enjoy found footage films, amazing. As mentioned above, it has a great raison d’etre (they are filming a documentary), and they continually address that and explain its continued legitimacy (the main character gets so spooked and ashamed at getting her friends killed that the camera is the only thing tethering her to reality). The tension in the back 20 minutes is incredible. The only complaint I have in general is that the end of the film is kind of a let down. I expected to at least get a bit of the witch at the end. Obviously, they thought it was better with the cliffhanger, but I would have preferred at least a little bit more. The acting is astonishingly good as well which was a huge surprise. B+, if you don’t like found footage you won’t necessarily enjoy it, but it is a good tense horror film and something you should watch if you have any interest in modern versions (like the Paranormal Activity franchise).