BOOK OF SHADOWS:
BLAIR WITCH 2
The original Blair Witch Project was a joke whose punch line is now
familiar to everyone -- the "found footage" of a trio of film students lost
hunting a witch in the woods may look like the real thing, but it's only a
movie. Joe Berlinger, director of the sequel, made a documentary
(Paradise Lost) about a different kind of witch hunt that insists
that it isn't just a movie but the real thing. Here Berlinger continues his
study of such issues as the media's blurring of reality and illusion and
society's need for scapegoats even as he tries to repeat a success that is by
its nature unrepeatable. Unfortunately, he has no knack for characters,
dialogue, or plot. His Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is a flurry of
half-formed ideas that instead of clarifying the distinction between
documentary and fiction compromises both.
It's a year since The Blair Witch Project shocked the box office, and
the Maryland town of Burkittsville is struggling with its newfound fame. Among
the locals exploiting it is Jeff (Jeffrey Donovan), who sells the trademark
stick figures over the Internet and has started a tour of the sites made famous
in the film. The clients on the maiden run include Erica (Erica Leerhsen), a
self-righteous wiccan, Kim (Kim Director), a spunky goth girl, and Tristen
(Tristen Skyler) and Stephen (Stephen Barker Turner), a couple writing a book
about it. They all fall asleep in the woods with the cameras on and then try to
figure out what happened during the lost hours.
The flashbacks to ritual murder and flashforwards to a police investigation
make the mystery pretty obvious, but Shadows stretches things out by
having Jeff tinker with his tapes and his clients bicker and go berserk while
Berlinger toys with chronology and film formats and gratuitous allusions.
What's real and what isn't proves elusive and irrelevant; what looks certain is
that there won't be a Blair Witch 3.
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