VIDEO: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

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Cecil takes an in-depth look at the hype surrounding the original Blair Witch Project, which then leads into a review of its much misunderstood sequel. Both films are great in their own way, but unfortunately some studio meddling severely messed up Blair Witch 2. This is another episode in Cecil’s “Exploring” series, which is a serious look at certain films that deserve more recognition.

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  • tedzey71

    It is depressing when you watch what could have been a better movie, but in the end it’s “Should’ve, Could’ve, Would’ve.” It’s interesting how the director wanted to do something different versus remake the same movie and play it safe. You raise good points as always, Cecil!

    • Nine Breaker

      Agreed. Personally, while I have nothing against the movie itself (aside from the fact that none of the characters I liked or felt any attachment to), I do think that having it be a sequel to a popular social and media phenomenon like The Blair Witch actually worked against it. Those who felt that the original didn’t need a sequel were going to go in with already negative bias toward it. And those who were fans of the original were gonna put this up on a pedestal and hype it.

      • Cecil_Trachenburg

        Whenever something is that huge you can guarantee there is going to be a follow up, so a sequel was going to happen one way or the other. I was just glad and impressed that he decided to go in a different direction than just do the same thing again. Would the whole kids lost in the woods angle work a second time? Probably not, especially now that everyone knows the original wasn’t real.

        • Nine Breaker

          Oh, no argument here. I just felt that alot of people who went to see this were already in a mindset of hating it based on how closely it related to the original, despite the director’s best intentions. Kinda sad once you see it from his perspective.

          Kids lost in the woods too cliche? Then add a random twist ending! It was all a dream and they never left the house. Or they’re actually aliens!Or vampires. Or do all of the above to ensure total mass appeal!

          …..ok I’m gonna stop before Hollywood gets too many ideas XD

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            Unfortunately with things that get this big, there will always be the people that will hate it just to hate it.

            Quiet! You’ll give them enough fuel for the next 3 summers! Then we’ll end up with a romantic zombie/werewolf/vampire thriller with pop stars and rappers playing all the lead parts.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Thanks!

      He fought the good fight but ultimately was done in by the guys with the money. So sad and it happens all too often.

  • John Wilson

    The book of shadows could be the book one of the main characters were talking about in the beginning of the movie. Maybe the book idea and reality got mixed up and that why all the things happen in the movie. Thar esrver thing should done in more movies:)

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Nah, the director flat out said the studio tacked on the “Book” because it sounded cool.

      Yes, the esrever thing should be in more movies. It really makes you scour the film. A very unique experience.

  • danbreunig

    (6:28) — Obscurus Lupa? Well, she’s got the near-same face and attitude, so why not?
    Blair Witch didn’t do much for me in terms of either entertainment or distraction. The thing is, by the time I finally got around to seeing it, I already knew all about its production history and crowd reaction to it, so all I could think of was “so how obvious does this movie make itself in being a supposed documentary?” So I was already sick of it before long. Suffice to say I passed up number 2.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      There really is a time frame for certain films. If you see them outside of their run they just aren’t as effective.

  • Alexa

    I think my only complaint about this film is how “straight to video it looks”, but you do make a lot of good points, and maybe I’ll give it try sometime.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Really? It looks good to me, kind of like a documentary but not.

      • Alexa

        Well its not bad, it doesn’t look cheap or anything, it just looks kind of basic. Not that’s a bad thing, I don’t know I can’t put my finger on it but I know it just looks off to me, I suppose. Still will check it out when I get the chance.

        • Thomas Stockel

          That might be due to the director’s documentary background. The guy might have this straightforward style.

          Just remember it could always be worse; he could have used those stupid tilted angle shots seen in Battlefield Earth.

          • Alexa

            That is true. And at least there isn’t any shaky cam, and I don’t mean the shaky cam from the original, that was fine and thankfully it didn’t happen as often, I mean when shaky cam is used in non found footage movies because people believe it will feel more “realistic” and all it does is give me motion sickness. Tripods aren’t your enemies Hollywood, so please use them for my sake. : /

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            lol oh jeez yeah, that whole movie was filmed like they forgot one of the legs on the tripod.

  • This might seem almost off topic as it relates to the first “Blair Witch” marketing. Creepypasta.
    I am somewhat fascinated with how the internet has created a new form of short form horror story that borders on interactive as rumor, group think, peer pressure and being anonymous allow ideas to mutate and grow beyond the original author.
    Kind of reminiscent of Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” broadcast, in which people are not immediately in on the joke or fiction, and instead allow the part of their brain that wants to believe in more fantastic elements to whistle and spark.

    • Cristiona

      The problem with creepypasta (besides the dumb name) is its terrible signal-to-noise ratio. Slenderman was interesting and creepy, and then he got a name and started popping up everywhere. To say nothing of the “haunted video game” stories that can hardly got 10 lines without mentioning hyperrealistic blood.
      Honestly, I think the SCP Foundation does a better job, if only because of editorial controls.

      • The_Stig

        Speaking of Slenderman, you’d think the studios would have caught on to it by now. Not a day goes by where I don’t expect to read about a Slendy movie finally getting made. It’s almost inevitable at this point.

        Of course, if Hollywood DOES make one, it’ll be after the meme is dead.

        • Sean Tadsen

          I swear I read something about there being a Marble Hornets movie being made, but that was a while ago. And I also saw a trailer for a Slenderman movie, but I’m not sure how well that will work (they gave him hands; that’s just… weird).

          Still, I don’t know how well a Slenderman movie would work – all the various series being on Youtube makes them seem more, well, “real”. Seeing the same thing in a theater wouldn’t be the same. Plus, even the best of the Slenderman series are probably working on a tiny budget, so a lot of the really scary stuff is only implied, which arguably makes it even more scary. An actual film studio probably wouldn’t be happy leaving stuff like that vague.

          • Cristiona

            Frankly, we had a Slenderman movie. The original Blair Witch pretty much takes care of that.
            Of course, thanks to a mocking retsupray of someone playing one of the awful Slenderman games, I can’t take him seriously anymore. I always think of him as Slendamenn, budget attorney.

          • John Wilson

            V/H/S third segment is pretty much a movie version. I think creepypasta really silly and is just overdone cheese:)

          • “V/H/S” hurt to look at because the camera moved constantly. I know it is supposed to be found footage, but “Cloverfield” had a steadycam that people just accepted as a handheld, they still conducted the camera like a real movie with fluid non-nausea movement.
            The movie would have been mostly fine if I hadn’t needed to cover my eyes every few minutes to keep my stomach in check.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Everyone keeps saying that found footage movies hurt to look at… I’ve never had that problem.

          • Muthsarah

            I think the found footage/shaky-cam CAN work, as long as it isn’t the standard visual…interface…thing…way of showing the audience things. It’s very annoying to look at, it is often abused, horribly, and it can even threaten to ruin otherwise good scenes in otherwise good movies. For instance, the recent The World’s End used shaky-cam a lot. I enjoyed the frack out of that film, but the shaky-cam pissed me off, because it made it harder for me to see exactly what was going on (I saw the forest, not the trees, got the scene but missed most of the details), and it planted in my mind the nagging suspicion that there wasn’t anything TO see, hence why they just shook the camera, to cover up the flaws they knew were there and they didn’t want to address. It’s an issue I have with Edgar Wright in general, unfortunately. Anything that makes it harder to see what’s clearly going on onscreen is problematic, like, in general. Film is visual, don’t use the visuals to hamper the film-watching experience.

            That said, I don’t have the problems lots of other people have. I don’t get physically sick at shaky-cam, though I know many people who do. Filmmakers shouldn’t use something that’s going to nauseate a significant portion of their audience, especially when there isn’t a good reason to do it at all. It’s lazy, it’s distracting, it’s limiting, and it’s potentially sickening. So…why?

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            In FF films, I understand shaky cam. I don’t neccessarily like it but often they try to keep it in check…at least the good ones do.

            Shaky cam in regular movies is lazy and irritating. Bourne Supremacy was like they hooked the camera to a paint mixer. I also hate the mix of shaky cam and quick edits. You lose track of what is going on and it takes you right out of the movie. It is an awful way to make films.

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            Found footage is tough because you don’t want it to be too steady (gives up the FF feel) and you don’t want it to be too shaky (makes people sick). I liked V/H/S but I don’t suffer from the shaky makes you nauseous. (I just dislike when it is used too much)

          • Cristiona

            It’s certainly a delicate balance. I think Chronicle did a fantastic job in that regard.

          • Sean Tadsen

            Good point.

            Personally, I tend to go with voice from the Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged parody, “Concrete Giraffes”.

            “Hey guyyys. Can I be in the mooovie?”

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            Kind of. I still think there would be room for an actual Slenderman movie…done right of course.

          • Cecil_Trachenburg

            If done by the right studio it could do very well. They would just have to keep some restraint. I know most bigger studios can’t wait to throw the money shot in there and overexplain the thing to death. If they kept the budget low, the effect minimal, and the mystery up there they could have the next big horror franchise.

        • MichaelANovelli

          I’m waiting for the Candle Cove movie, myself…

          • Nine Breaker

            Come on, I can’t be the only one who thinks a Candlejack movie would be a g

        • Cecil_Trachenburg

          That surprises me too. Slenderman just lends itself so well to being an easy slam dunk of a found footage movie, I am shocked no one has jumped on it yet.

          If done well, it could be huge.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Agreed. The backstory to the film took on a life of its own and the general public ended up doing more marketing for the movie than the studio did!

  • Moppet

    I’d love a true, as originally intended, cut of this. I liked the film well enough, but I didn’t know half the things you mentioned for better or worse, and it’s strange to find my issues with the film were never intended. Amazing. Thank you for this.

    All that said, I was never really a big fan of the original. Not to any extreme either really, it just wasn’t my thing. I’d never deny how much of an effect it’s had on film, and I’d not want to do without its existence, since, really, I don’t have to like a thing for it to be worthwhile none the less.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      You’re welcome! The thing that bothers me quite a bit is how smart the studio was with the original (marketing and what not) but then they turn around and botch the release of the sequel. If they would have left it alone and marketed it correctly it wouldn’t be so looked down on.

      A large part of what made the original special was if you were around at the time. While I like the movie for what it is, being there in the moment when the whole story was unfolding was incredible. This is something that just doesn’t happen anymore. They put so much work into making the movie take on a life of its own, it really was something special.

  • The_Stig

    Seeing Jeffrey Donovan in this movie warms the cockles of my heart, but they were missing the following character archetypes:

    The trigger-happy ex-girlfriend
    The old friend who used to inform on you to the FBI
    Family too….if you’re desperate.

    and a down and out spy you met along the way. BTW, effing love Poe.

    • Jay_Bay

      I saw what you did there. It was beautiful.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      I’ve had more than a few people telling me to watch Burn Notice…I should get on that at some point.

      Hell yeah! Poe is great, I wish she would put out a new album.

      • Thomas Stockel

        Well, you’re a little late. The show should have ended two seasons ago but they’ve been beating a dead horse. I think the series finale is either showing tonight or next week but this whole season has been so lackluster I can’t bring myself to care.

        By the way, awesome review. I think some studio oversight is always necessary on these projects to prevent budget overruns and the like, but if you hire a director and he shows you a script and gives you a clear cut idea what he wants to do, and then he goes and does everything he says he was going to do, then why the hell mess with his project? It’s senseless.

        • Cecil_Trachenburg

          Its one of those shows I’ve always meant to check out but just never got around to it.

          Thanks! I think the big problem is the guys who are in charge of keeping the directors in line are never of the artistic variety. They always are the accountants and they don’t see the bigger picture. Sometimes movies really need a scene that while it may be expensive, it is essential to the production. The producers don’t see that and many times that is why there are plot holes in films. (not always but more often than most folks know) Or my personal favorite, as in the case of this movie, they bring a director on board, he explains what he wants to do and they give him the green light. Then, they all the sudden decide that what he did really isn’t what they wanted after all and they take a butcher knife to the whole thing.

  • Magdalen

    This was a really interesting take. I thought you would rip this movie apart, but you actually made me reconsider my opinion of it. Way to go, Cecil!

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Thanks! I love this movie and it is such a shame the studio decided to meddle with it.

  • Earthbound_X

    Interesting, I still think this a terrible movie, but that was a different take on it.

    There’s actually a PC video game about the story of the guys killing those kids, saw a LPs of it.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Have you seen the director’s cut?

      • Earthbound_X

        Nope, when I say it’s terrible, I mean the version that came out in theaters. Like you say in the video though, sounds like the studio really messed it up.

        • Cecil_Trachenburg

          I gotcha, I misunderstood what you meant. Yeah, the studio really screwed up.

          Haven’t played the games. I heard the first one was quite good but the other 2 were only so-so.

  • Jeff Bradford

    Damnit Cecil! Stop making me like this movie!

  • Muthsarah

    I see you just did some Radiodromes. I’ve been eagerly awaiting you and Brad doing something together; it’s a shame you missed each other.

  • Young Gun

    My mind has been blown into a hundred pieces now, this is actually pretty genius! Shame the execs pretty much ruined the movie entirely with the final cut.

  • Endorenna

    What?! I got to the middle of this review, and even though I’ve never seen the original Blair Witch movie, I really wanted to see the original version of this movie! Then…no officially released director’s cut.

    This makes me very sad.