So, what goes up has to come down I guess.
What do you do when you have a runaway success? You greenlight that sequel as quickly as you can and knock it out the next year. Now does that speak to the quality of the movie? Well…yes. Yes it does.
I’m one of the few people who will probably defend Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (Fuck it, BOSBW2). I can’t really explain why, which is probably going to make for a fun read for you.
So ok, this is how it works. The original movie wasn’t real, but it was released and it was the pop culture phenomenon that it actually was. So this is a meta-sequel. So far so good. Tours are being run in and out of the real locations where the first movie was set (Which actually happened) and we follow one of those groups as things slowly descend into madness.
I think I like BOSBW2 because it tries. There are elements there of an original, interesting idea. Director Joe Berlinger, who prior to this had made the fantastic documentary Paradise Lost about the West Memphis Three, seems to want to find a through line between perceptions in reality. The blurring of lines surrounding the original movie (Fun Fact: When it was first screened it was missing the final credits – adding to the idea that it was real) bleed into the central plot of this movie, which is that what people think has happened is different from what actually happened in reality.
Convoluted yes, but I’m taking what I can get here. It also helps that it’s loaded with references to other movies. I counted The Omen, Evil Dead 2, The Titicut Follies, Haxan and Twin Peaks.
I can’t make the argument that BOSBW2 (Fuck it, BW2) is good. I can’t convince people that it’s a underrated classic either (Though it does contain a brutal hanging scene that’s a great marriage of sound and image), but there’s still things about it I admire. I like the feeling of dread that seems to hang over every frame, I like how the movie ultimately builds and plays on the idea of reality and fiction. I like what Berlinger attempts, even if it ultimately fails for various reasons.
Some of that needs to fall to the studio. Not happy with the movie turned in, they decided to reshoot some of it and add in some traditional scares (Hello gore shots) as well as alter the structure of the whole thing. An interrogation scene that’s meant to serve as a twist in the last 10 minutes is now cut in throughout the movie, giving the game away almost right from the start.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen BW2 (Fuck it, 2), but it’s somehow more than the first one. I guess if I’m going to watch a failure I’d prefer to watch an ambitious one.