Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

(In theaters, October 2000) This surprised me, and it should surprise you as well. It is obviously much, much slicker (and formulaic) than the controversial original film. It also can’t escape the obvious giggle-factor reflex of thinking about the sheerly lucrative intent of a sequel to a film that already stands as being one of the most profitable in history. The surprising thing is how well it stands up to the original’s originality. Blair Witch 2 assumes the the first one did exist as a film, and features “fans” of the first film, further blurring the reality/fiction line that the first one muddied so well. But this is only a pretext to an exploration of reality, denial and objective truth that works quite well if you’re paying attention. Book Of Shadows (okay, where’s the book?) doesn’t emerges without serious flaws (the caricatural sheriff is a terrible character, and there are several moments where you’ll laugh at the film, not because of it) but it does earn a certain hard-won respect. It’s not a classic, and even calling it good would be dicey, but it’s much better than what you might expect. Many, many people will prefer it to the gimmicky (shakycam) original. It’s fascinating because and despite its relation to the first film, by the sheer distance between the two and by the common bonds that unite them: Sequel, satire, apology, rip-off, homage; it’s all of that. Viewers with an encyclopedic knowledge of horror film and a love for the genre will have a lot of fun dissecting this one. If nothing else, the audaciousness of Book Of Shadows‘s writer/director Joe Berlinger is enough to make it interesting. Oh, and the Wiccan redhead gets naked too.

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