Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Book Of Shadows is no Blair Witch

In a few rare cases, sequels are able to recapture the success of their predecessors by advancing the plot and turning a good movie into a classic series.

But sequels are a risk because a bad sequel can immediately tear at a director’s credibility and cause the series to be ridiculed. Director Joe Berlinger and the producers of The Blair Witch are taking just such a chance on Oct. 27 when they release their sophomore effort, The Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows.

This film is not a total insult to the original, but it certainly comes close. With slick special effects, professional photography, and particularly graphic murder scenes, the movie is a horror fan’s dream and a Blair Witch fan’s nightmare. The first movie’s independent film style is almost entirely forgotten, leaving the viewers neck less cramped but the film’s integrity tattered.

Book of Shadows follows a group of tourists who are fascinated with the original Blair Witch movie. Led by Jeff, played by newcomer Jeffrey Donovan, an enterprising though slightly disreputable tour guide, the group ventures into the forest stocked with plenty of beer and, of course, a load of video equipment.

This troupe includes an aspiring witch, (played by Erica Leerhsen) a goth with special powers (played by Kim Director), and two researchers (played by Tristen Skyler and Stephen Barker Turner). The group is brought together through each character’s secret and slightly warped desire to find the Blair Witch. The witch does not wait long to surface and the group is left with no provisions after only a night. They immediately leave the horrors of the woods for Jeff’s home, an abandoned warehouse. From here the movie really begins, unfolding with all the terrors present in a generic haunted house flick.

The director’s attempt to take the movie into a new direction is admirable but unfortunately it is executed poorly. What could be more trite than group spending the night in an old abandoned warehouse? The adoption of standard horror movie themes and devices really hurts the quality of this film.

This movie is exactly what many feared, a glossy Hollywood version of the original. While the film is well made, the magic and originality of The Blair Witch Project has been lost in the transition from indie to corporate filmmaking.

This movie does have some high points. Witty self-satire throughout the film acts as a saving grace. Exaggerated scenes leave viewers unsure whether they should laugh or scream. This mixture of comedy and horror is effective because it breaks down the anticipation of a scary scene leaving the viewer unsure what will come next. It is very disconcerting when the audience is laughing one moment and screaming the next. The film’s roller-coaster approach to scary scenes is interesting and extremely efficient in inspiring the kind of movie-terror that makes girlfriends grab on tight.

Book of Shadows is not a bad movie, it just isn’t the original. The original Blair Witch surprised the movie industry as it brought in millions of dollars in profit with a production budget of only $30,000. What the directors forgot was that the original’s success was based on its independent style and filming philosophy and its ability to engender fear without employing movie clich?s.

Berlinger may have to answer to angry fans after this one. For a fun horror flick on a Saturday night, Book of Shadows will suffice, but do not expect to see the Blair Witch. She was killed by Hollywood to make an extra buck.

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