61 – Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Words fail me.

No, wait. I found some.

The Blair Witch Project was, if nothing else, an interesting movie. Many people thought it was the most revolutionary movie of its time, owing in no small part to the realism. Audiences found themselves believing every step of the movie. And, of course, the endless Internet hype didn’t hurt. Many of us watched that film before the popular press piled on – and nothing kills a movie quicker than overhype. If critics tell you a movie’s wonderful, your expectations are massive, sometimes insurmountable. This is perhaps why a lot of people I’ve talked to hated, hated, hated The Blair Witch Project. They illogically thought the movie would be the best thing ever created, even better than sliced bread, hot tubs, the Internet, or shoe horns. Imagine their disappointment when it was just a movie!

That said, the sequel – which was made with a much, much bigger budget, was even more hyped, although not in the underground, independent-film style of its predecessor. Book of Shadows was marketed in a wide multimedia campaign, boasting of its shock value and of its relation to the first film.

It has failed in every possible way to be entertaining.

The story has a “tour group” prowling the forest around Burkittsville, Maryland, the site of the first film. The recovered videotape from the first movie has led to a huge influx of tourist to the area and its beleaguered residents. Naturally, people make money off the tourism, and a few give tours of the forest. The movie focuses on one of these tour groups, comprised of a couple of lovers, a couple of witches, and the arrogant SOB who’s running the tour itself. These people couldn’t get much more caricatured.

Many years ago, William Castle held a nationwide casting call for a movie called 13 Frightened Girls. The movie wound up being one of the worst of its kind (a haunted-house mystery), and most of the very amateur actors in the movie never acted again. Book of Shadows does not have that level of professionalism or of thespian promise.

Remember those cheesy movies – in the 60’s, it was beach movies; in the 70’s, it was biker movies; in the 80’s, it was arcade game movies – that you and your pals laughed at and threw popcorn at? The acting was bad, the production was bad – you even got lucky some times and saw an errant microphone.

The difference between those films and Book of Shadows is that this movie had a budget. But the acting is atrocious. Every line is delivered either flatly or with wild, over-the-top emotion. These kids have no idea how to act. They ACT like they’re acting! Sure, you’re saying, the original’s actors weren’t actually veteran actors, either. True, true, I concur, but those actors were playing their roles naturally, as if we were watching them voyeuristically. Book of Shadows didn’t even attempt to do this. Much of Blair Witch was shot in black and white with handheld cameras – held BY the actors. Not this time. Professional cameramen held their expensive cameras while their decidedly amateur cast screwed up their deliveries. It’s like going to an acting class for nonactors – people who can’t act have a tendency to overact, to overplay, overenunciate, overindulge, and just plain overestimate the audience’s capacity for dull, uninteresting crap.

Then there’s the effects. I could probably come up with better special effects on my tiny PC with one little graphic program. The editing was childish. The cinematography was below anyone’s standards, even if one had a tiny budget. With a bigger budget, you would think better filming would take place. Au contraire!

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie this horrid in every way. Oh, and the ending? I won’t be dumb enough to give it out to you, but it’s no mystery. This is a stunningly awful movie, content to make its bed in the den of The Blair Witch Project. It’s like an overprivileged son who doesn’t feel he needs to stand on his own two feet to survive, only to learn his wealthy daddy won’t support him.

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2: 1

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