Witch Guide  
    One of the most anticipated sequels in history isn't really a sequel at all.  If you were hoping for a continuation of the Blair Witch Project story, this isn't the movie for you.  Shortly after the surprise success of BW1, Artisan went into high gear on production of Book of Shadows.  To this end, speed became a priority and thus BW2 is more a spin-off of the original story coming from a different team of writers.

    But for those who can go into this movie with this knowledge, as we did, this movie takes on a different context and is actually enjoyable.

    Moving on the assumption that the events in BW1 are fabricated, a tour company created by an ex-mental patient brings a random bunch of characters into a revolving plot that flash-backs on itself over the issue of missing hours and missing video until the end when the strings are pulled together in an intentionally untidy method.

    The thing about this particular story is it is perfectly made for a quick release.  If you tear apart the various Blair Witch Project references, which are few and far between, this script could have been used with any horror series in existence.

    The hand-held, scrappy pictures are abandoned, mostly, in lieu of a crisp wide screen presentation.  Fortunately the directors did this in a way which keeps in the Blair tradition by using those cute camcorders any chance they could get.

    Although this movie tries to be mysterious on many levels and succeeds the main villain in the story is flushed out rather early and obviously.  We personally knew who did it approximately 30 minutes in.  But fortunately for the story even when you know who did it, you don't know if what you are seeing should be taken on face value, so in the end you are left with a number of possibilities.

    The main drawback to this film was the number of locations it was shot in.  The success of BW1, in our opinion, was that it was based on a flowing movie in which the stars took us deeper and deeper into the woods.  The helplessness of the cast and the panic that developed were due to the fact that we and the cast were never in the same place twice.  As they got lost we got lost with them and never knew what was around the bend.  This movie doesn't attempt to be BW1 although it would have been wise to follow its filming philosophy.  Instead there are basically just two shooting locations and both are basic stage shots.  We never get a chance to explore and for the most part are locked away in a warehouse, something we never expected.  The Blair series is meant to be outside and all of the best BW2 scenes were filmed there.  All of the events that transpire in the movie could have been done outside and it is a shame they didn't write it that way.

    Like we said, this movie was written and filmed very quickly for a Halloween 2000 release.  And hence we found several mistakes in the plot right off the bat.  During the resolution scenes we see the culprit burying the missing tapes, however, if he or she is burying the tapes, how was the scene captured on tape for the rest to view?  Also the handful of cuts to the mental hospital showing our tour guide are certainly eerie but they never go anywhere.  Yes, they try to lead us to an assumption, but they are overkill and not needed.  There are also several sex scenes which are not needed.  They are thrown in as candy which does not fit with this series.

    The biggest surprise of this movie is that hype from media sources such as Showtime, The Scifi Channel and the Blair Witch web site itself all pointed to this movie being about the relationship of Rustin Parr and the lone child that escaped the original killings.  There was a buildup over and over again on these issues and we certainly expected them to be heavily involved in this movie.  We can only speculate that this hype is meant for the planned Blair Witch 3.  Also it was widely rumored that BW2 was very bloody and that we would actually see the Blair Witch in some form.  Both rumors were totally false.  This is basically a bloodless movie and plays with the mind like the original.

    If you are a Blair purist and want a continuation of the story than this is not a movie for you and will surely disappoint; however, don't feel too bad.  Artisan and Hexan Films have essentially divided this series into two separate entities feeling that more is better.  BW2 was thrown as a quick bone to horror fans but the original writers are working directly on episode three which is rumored to continue the original story or provide a back story.  We only hope that lower profits from BW2 won't sway Artisan from following through.

    Unfortunately, for those who enjoy BW2, there are many open ends left in this story that evolve from an ending that came and went way too quickly, and we don't expect that there will be resolution in further films.  A shame because it would be interesting to see what happens to the survivors.

    | copyright, 2000 |