"How many Heather Donahues does it take to screw in a light bulb?"
First off, I didn't see any Book of Shadows anywhere in the movie. There were no books that could have been a Book of Shadows. Nor did any book play any part in the story. So if you're bothered by things like that, well, there you go.
The success of Blair Witch Project was a prototype of what would one day be a sad buzzword called "viral." They made up a thing, pretended it was real, then sold everyone on it thanks to the Internet. Smart folks. The movie itself was way scarier than your average horror movie, because all the stuff that's always in horror movies, they took out.
So to follow up on the huge success, they put it all back in.
Blair Witch's creators were not involved, but that's no excuse.
The original didn't give us anything we expect from a horror film. It didn't give us the stuff that we need. But Blair Witch 2 has popular musicians on the soundtrack. It's on film, not a shaky video camera. It has that familiar dramatically building horror music, that "da da DAAAAAH!" that tells you that a booger's about to jump out and get you.
In this one, fans of the original Blair Witch join a tour group formed by a Burkittsville resident. When they arrive, they camp in the Blair woods, where the Project took place. Bad idea. They meet another tour group. Then they all get stoned and drunk, because the tour guide brought enough weed and beer for everybody.
Wow. Every organized tour I've been on sucks.
The next day, they check the video footage they got while letting the camera run all night, and find several hours missing. And something happened to that other tour group. Da da DAAAAAH!
Why make a sequel anyway? Besides money, of course. That's fine. It's the American way. But the movie is so completely different in plot, in look, in feel, that they could have called it Sleepless in Seattle 2 : Book of Shadows.
This is the first movie that's a sequel to a website. Blairwitch.com and the Sci-Fi Channel's Curse of the Blair Witch special / mockumentary provide more story content for Blair Witch 2 than for Project. The website had a ton of backstory and such that they didn't mention in the first movie because they were too busy running around in the woods and such.
In the first one, the Blair Witch legend was the maguffin to get the kids lost in the woods. It was only a device. But here, there's much talk of the legend and the mythology. The Blair Witch legend stuff is appropriately eerie in print or the way it was played on the special.
But being spoken about by hot young actors? Not so much. Even if one of them is the future Burn Notice star,
The cast sequelizes the website by going back to the house where the final Project scene took place. But it's been torn down, which removes all drama and whatever nostalgia there might have been from the scene.
There's no climactic chase scene with the hot kids pursued by somebody with a knife. The body count is surprisingly less than it should have been. But instead of dwelling on the perception of fear, which the first one did, the question here is are there witches, or was everyone baked out of their minds?
Also, the whole deal with the missing videotape footage is never answered. Can the Blair Witch manipulate human thought? Or is she just really good at editing video?
There is one good thing about the movie, actor Lanny Flaherty, who plays the ornery old sheriff of Burkittsville.
The real ghost story in this movie is how the spirit of Slim Pickens is reincarnated in this guy's body. Pickens is the crazy hillbilly in Doctor Strangelove and the crazy hillbilly in Blazing Saddles..
Lanny Flaherty looks just like him. I wanted him to reprise Slim in Blazing Saddles, and talk about how the Blair Witch uses her tongue better than a 20-dollar whore.
You can tell he's got Slim Pickens in him with this quote: "You think that your makeup and black clothes give you power! Wipe that shit off your face!"
Welcome back, Mr. Pickens.