Blair Without Flair
Blair Witch 2 is a cheap knockoff of the low-budget original.
Thursday, October 26, 2000
There is no actual "Book of Shadows" in Blair Witch Project 2, unless you describe a mess of garbled videotapes poetically as a "book of shadows." Shaped as a quick, profiteering scam off the first Blair Witch, the new episode parodies the media-mania that''s made life annoying for the citizens of Burkittsville, Maryland. Adding insult to injury, the filmmakers deride the townsfolk as inbreeding cases. A few scenes take place in a convenience store where various yokels congregate--including a crazy woman with a shopping cart full of Underwood''s devilled ham. Get thee behind me, satanically inspired lunch meats!
We begin on a Blair Witch Hunt tour, led by Jeff (Jeffrey Donovan) a young Burkittsville man with a history of some unspecified mental illness. He has four customers for his maiden tour: a bland academic couple Tristine (Tristine Skyler) and Stephen (Stephen Turner); Erica (Erica Leerhsen), a Wiccan who looks like Tori Amos, and Kim (Kim Director), a strapping Goth girl. The party of five camps out at the ruins of the house where seven children were killed 60 years previously. The campers set up a ring of video and digital cameras to record the events of the evening. After a night of whooping it up with whiskey and beer, they awake filthy, hungover and with no memories of an attack on their camp which destroyed all the photographic equipment.
Tristine spontaneously miscarries and has to be taken back to recuperate in Jeff''s home in an abandoned factory. There, the four other campers spend a long, sleepless stretch analyzing their lost video tapes, found buried in the mud, to try to piece together the events of the missing five hours.
Blair Witch 2 tries to tell its story without extensive computer-graphic effects, which is a credit to the spirit of the original. Yet the film never develops a mood, thanks to actors who can''t rise above the meager outlines they''re given.
Erica has a Wiccan saying, "Fear is a forerunner of failure," and Blair Witch 2 bears that motto out. We can see here the fear of trying to make this film as serious, as gritty and gloomy as the first, in case it might be laughed at. This is ultimately just another tale of impious, beer drinking kids punished by evisceration. It criticizes the first Blair Witch for not having sex in it, and then, naturally, doesn''t give us any, either. (Unless you count the witch''s Sabbath--an underwear dance around a campfire that''s about as eldritch as the Teddy Bear''s Picnic.)
Director Joe Berlinger is a noted documentary maker >(My Brother''s Keeper, Paradise Lost). He surprises by not giving a lick of documentary feel to the movie, which is fully posed, professionally photographed and orchestrated with a Carter Burwell score, including a series of rock acts. By the time we hear the line, There must be some reasonable explanation for this, not even the Blair Witch herself--and, no, she''s not in this, either--could conjure this film back to life.
Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows... (* 1/2)
Director: Joe Berlinger
Starring:Jeffrey Donovan, Tristine Skyler, Stephen Turner, Erica Leerhsen, Kim Director
Where: Galaxy 6, Northridge
When: See Movie Times