latest installment of "The Blair Witch Project."
you try to look up Burkittsville, the town where the Blair Witch
once resided, in Webster's College Dictionary the only thing that
comes close is Burkitt's Lymphoma--a cancer of the lymphatic system
characterized by lesions of the jaw or abdomen. It's a shame the
dictionary authors aren't paid as prognosticators, for who knew that
same definition would partly summarize
magic of the original "Blair Witch Project" is that it
began as a simple idea. Drop three wannabe actors in the woods with
two cameras and a mandate to film a slow, group mental breakdown. No
script and no soundtrack were necessary. Brilliant Internet marketing
and word of mouth spread news of the production even before trailers
made it into the theaters. Its official website, Harry Knowles' site,
and the Sci-Fi channel's airing of a very real-looking documentary on
the Blair Witch and the town of Burkittsville all contributed to what
was ultimately well-deserved hype.
Blair Witch Project" is the most profitable film of all time.
It was scary, creative, and again, simple. What your eyes couldn't
see--your own mind made 10 times worse. There were no knives put into
intestines, no mass sexual exploits, and no white ooze coming out of
people's jaws. All of these cliches are in the sequel.
of Shadows: The Blair Witch Project II" takes place in
Burkittsville, MD, after the first film debuts and becomes an
international sensation. The film takes a creative turn in
acknowledging the original "Blair Witch Project" as
fiction. The town is overrun with pesky tourists, yet the population
seems to be thriving under a small economic boom. There are people in
town selling everything from Burkittsville rocks (as used in the
original film), t-shirts, mugs, and even tours.
film revolves around one young, local resident named Jeff who
previously spent time in a mental institution for kidnapping a young
girl and taking her into the woods for reasons known only to him. The
film does not give the reason for Jeff's institutionalization, but it
is on every cardboard stand at the front of the theaters showing the
film. And this is a problem. "The Blair Witch Project" is
famous for using various media to perpetuate its history, yet if the
sequel claims the original film was based on fiction, and the big,
cardboard history cutout out front says it was real--who should we
believe? The two are inconsistent and get to be a bit of a headache
if you analyze them too much.
during those missing hours. By the end of the film you're still
trying to figure out what was real and what wasn't.
of that aside, the film has five people trekking out on a tour of
sites from the original film. The sequel continues the tradition of
using the actors' real first names as their onscreen names. Jeff is
the tour guide. Along with him are Kim, who is a Wiccan witch;
Tristine and Stephen, who are a couple doing research for a thesis
they're writing; and Erica, the Goth girl who has a bit of ESP
running through her system (and make-up that never seems to run).
There's a blackout period of about five hours while they're in the
woods and it takes the entire film to figure out what
Leerhsen as Erica Geerson in Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Berlinger, the film's director, has actually filmed several, highly
praised, real documentaries. This is his first non-documentary film
and it's a shame he may become more famous for this than any of his
previous works, which include the masterpiece "Paradise
Lost." He deserves credit for trying to be creative and even
bending over backwards to continue the tradition of using the
Internet as a tool for promotion, marketing, and giving audiences a
better understanding of the film. The website even hosted a chat
session with a real Wiccan witch, to get her thoughts on the film and
promote the fact that almost all witches today are good and bound to nature.
the end, the film suffers from a serious case of trying to please
everyone and ultimately pleasing no one. Perhaps some day we'll find
Webster using that as the definition to blairwitchitis.
by Sandro Galindo