I amongst many other people truly respected what the Blair Witch Project achieved in its time. It wasn't the first time the reality blurring horror tale had been done of course (see The Last Broadcast or indeed the BBC's oft-forgotten early nineties shocking Ghost Watch) but the Blair Witch had style and qualities that made it stand out from the rest.
But how do you sequelize something that became such a phenomenon in such a short time. Something that gained interest and hype via word of mouth and the fictionalised official website. The answer is with great difficulty. Something that director Joe Berlinger would have to face. After the mythology and hype had been taken away from the first movie you're left without that edge. You no longer have this fake or reality back thought eating away at you while you watch it.
So, the premise for Book of Shadows? Jeff Patterson, ex nutcase and Burkitsville local, (played by Jeffrey Donovan) tries to cash in on all of the 'real world' hype of the events in the first film. So what better than to start your very own Blair Witch Hunt tour. A special experience for fans to visit various locations from the original film. And this what you might call dysfunctional group consist of....an ex-mental patient, a friendly witch, a goth psychic, and a Blair Witch research couple. And so after setting off into the woods with video cameras galore they set up camp in the ruins of Rustin Parr's house where they continue with the traditional onslaught of booze and drugs. But the next morning brings confusion and fear as research paperwork and video camera are found to be destroyed. But eerily the tapes still remain in the same place they found the supposed 'video footage' from the first Blair Witch movie. So its back to Jeffs place to play the tapes and piece together the night before.
The Book of Shadows is by no means the rareity of a superior sequel and does seem filled with unnecessaries. The amount of quick flashbacks, cuts and sequences out of sync in this movie is a bit much for anyone. Several sequences try to use too much symbolism, serve too many flashbacks, and completely disorientate the viewer. To me all this adds to too much confusion and the kind of questions such as 'What the hell was that all about?' are raised here in abundance.
The pace of the film is good, again likely to be because of the constant cuts. The story itself is a little all over the place at times and the visions and group hallucinations that the characters are suffering means little or no brain breaks for the audience. The Book of Shadows tried something a bit different. The amount of Blair Witch Project referencing throughout the movie is astoundingly too obvious. But hey, I enjoyed the soundtrack.
And as a final footnote the key confusion for me from the outset of this movie is what is the Book of Shadows and how does that title have any relevance whatsoever to the content of the actual movie. Damn you.
Good pace. Overused editing. Confusing. Messy at times. Decent music. Potential sequel from here? I don't think so. But with the possibility of a prequel in the pipeline it does seem like the Blair Witch franchise isn't done with us yet.