October 27 celebrates the twentieth anniversary of one of the scariest nights of my life. No, not seeing Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 in the theater. This movie is awful. Later in the evening I went on a blind double date. Now that is terrifying.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 takes place in a world where fans of the first movie, released a year earlier, descend on the small town and hope to have something spooky happen. Thanks to the witch’s powers the group sees things that may not exist, hallucinate, and have their own personal realities warped with deadly consequences.
And it has nothing of what made The Blair Witch Project amazing.
The movie is filmed like a regular flick. The found footage aspect that made the original so ground breaking is mostly gone. Security cameras and a bit of hand held camcorders are worked in for some revelations but it seems hokey this time. When Blair Witch was great because it was so different the sequel should not look exactly like every previous movie that the first was trying to differentiate from. The independent no studio influence 1999 film cannot be replicated by constant studio notes and reshoots.
It’s a tale as old as time. The little guy makes money so the big corporation wants to grow the concept into more money. In ways that eliminate what made it special in the first place. We’ve seen it over our life times with music, movies, wrestling, and all the other genres we all love.
Even more frightening was the double date of the evening. All four of us went to this movie and the night was almost ruined. Thankfully, there was a haunted house in a historical colonial town a short drive away. Feeling our way through old military barracks while all manner of ghosts and monsters jump out from every direction was the highlight of the entire Halloween season. Because it was different. There was something unexpected around every corner. It was unpredictable. Best of all, even though we had just met, it was a shared bonding experience between us.
It was everything that this sequel tried to remove in the quest for what studios believe the audience actually wants and will make the most money.