A group of tourists arrives in Burkittsville, Maryland after seeing The Blair Witch Project (1999) to explore the mythology and phenomenon, only to come face to face with their own neuroses and possibly the witch herself.
To cash in on all of the "real world" hype of the events in the first film, a man from Burkitsville, Maryland opens a "Blair Witch Hunt" tour, which shows patrons various locations from the original film. A bunch of college students decide to take the tour, and wind up in Rustin Parr's house. There, they decide to camp for the evening, but in the morning, they realize they didn't sleep and they don't remember anything that happened the previous night. From there, they go back to town, and discover that something...or someone has come with them.Written by
"Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" follows a group of fanatics obsessed with the Blair Witch legend in the aftermath of the film's first release. Among them are a mentally-unstable local; a husband-and-wife team of graduate students studying the Blair Witch; a self-proclaimed Wiccan; and a depressive goth. The five camp out in the ruins of Rustin Parr's home, where the Blair Witch tapes were "found," and experience a mental blackout in which they each fail to recount several hours of the night. In a daze and confusion, they retreat to the group leader's warehouse- turned-home, where their individual psychological breakdowns lead them to a disturbing truth.
I'm just going to say it outright: I love this film. It was, and continues to be met with hostility from fans of the original, which still quite frankly baffles me. It's not nearly as terrifying as the original film, but it is ingenious in its own way. Rather than approach a sequel with a rehash of the first film's material, co-writer/director Joe Berlinger offers something different: a narrative within a world in which "The Blair Witch Project" was real footage— a world inhabited by characters who range from unabashed believers to academic skeptics, to people who simply "thought the movie was cool."
With a common interest, they set out into the woods to find some evidence—but all goes awry when one of the women suffers a premonitory miscarriage, and they are forced to retreat to the leader's home, which is where the film becomes a full-blooded psychological thriller. What is real, and what isn't? Where is the Blair Witch? Outside, lurking in the forest? Possessing one of the characters? Is she even there at all?
These are the kinds of questions the script toys with, and the result is wildly engaging. The performances are top-notch, and the film is peppered with disturbing scenes and images, and some ghoulish scenarios. The score lends an oppressive tone to the movie, and it is steeped in an atmosphere of complete unease that grows more and more pervasive as the five characters bear witness to the inexplicable. The film plays its cards well and is careful in its subtlety, which leads to a downbeat and twisted conclusion.
Overall, "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" has been harshly criticized by fans who it seems haven't taken the time to try and understand what it's attempting to do. It is not a rehash of the original film, and it never aims to be. The approach taken is commendable and rather brilliant, and it manages to establish an ever-increasing sense of oppressiveness that grows on the audience, which is the real catch here in my opinion—it is genuinely unnerving to watch, and that's something rare these days. 8/10.
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