I am not ashamed to say I am a big fan of the Blair Witch franchise. But everyone despises the sequel, and it had me want to revisit it. Here is my review!
* WARNING: Spoilers Ahead!*
The Official Summary!
Do you remember Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows? No? Let’s dig in!
As it follows the twisted path traveled by five people fixated on The Blair Witch Project, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows journeys into a dark and dangerous place where the line between truth and fiction blurs and perhaps vanishes altogether.
Individual perception grows increasingly untrustworthy as the film’s protagonists find themselves caught in a vortex of unspeakable evil, the origins of which—human or supernatural—remain chillingly uncertain. — Google
What Is Blair Witch 2 About?
Following the immense success that The Blair Witch Project received, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows received a green light immediately after a first pitch. Launched in 2000, this American horror movie had director and writer Joe Berlinger make the movie a reality.
The movie starred Jeffrey Donovan, Kim Director, Tristine Skyler, Stephen Barker Turner, and Erica Leerhsen. Like The Blair Witch Project, the actors used their first names as their characters’ names. Sadly, it did not receive nearly the impact that its predecessor had. It received plenty of nominations as the worst sequel to a movie.
The movie itself revolves around five passionate The Blair Witch Project people. They show and manifest different interests in the movie. They follow their tour guide to the Black Hills, where they spend a night, which is only the beginning of their adventure.
My Overall Thoughts
I must say I didn’t remember much about the movie aside from the goth girl, Kim, relaxing in a cemetery and the orgy. I had no recollections of the main plot and subplot of the movie itself. However, I found it quite entertaining for what it is. Although not a sequel in my eyes still worth a revisit.
The main idea revolved around the frenzy The Blair Witch Project caused. Whether it was negative or positive, the movie’s popularity spread like wildfire. I remember how people from Maryland had to come forth to say the town never existed and the Blair Witch was pure fiction. It’s safe to say the writer and director relied on the mass hysteria the fans created, aware of it or not.
The movie also brought back this “Satanic Panic” the population went through in the eighties. They only interchanged satanism with witchcraft. The movie’s ambiance relied more on the aftermath of The Blair Witch Project than a re-enactment of mile-long lost found footage.
Nevertheless, if we forget it’s a sequel to a movie that launched a new horror genre, it’s quite a fun watch. It’s a lousy sequel but not a bad movie.
The Beginning And How It Launches The Story
The movie shows us Jeff, who will become the tour guide to four other The Blair Witch Project enthusiasts. We learn from Jeff, aside from his great passion for the movie, that he was in a psychiatric hospital, but we don’t know why.
The scene in the psychiatric hospital is quite unbelievable. Doctors are smoking, feeding Jeff a yellow-cream textured liquid through his nose while strapped down on a medical bed. We see him in a padded room with a straitjacket, but not much information is shared.
Something worth mentioning is that throughout the movie, we see Jeff, Kim, and Stephen interviewed by the Sheriff and his detective. As the movie progresses, pieces of the puzzle slowly come together for the bigger picture revealed in the movie’s last act.
The Group Comes Together
We know Jeff might have a mental disorder and is the tour guide for his company, The Blair Witch Hunt. In his van, we meet the couple of the movie and signed co-authors of a book on the Blair Witch.
The boyfriend, Stephen, made concrete and heavy research on the witch’s lore and is the skeptic of the group. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Tristine, believes in the possibility of the paranormal, contradicting her boyfriend on his mass hysteria theory.
In the back of the van is Erica. She is a Wiccan and an activist for witches. She shares her knowledge of witchcraft often and reveals her intentions quickly. The last to join knows Jeff and is a psychic and a goth, Kim. They find her lying down on an upper-ground tomb in a cemetery.
We know early that Tristine is six weeks pregnant and is ready to keep it for her boyfriend despite not wanting a child. Kim is the one who saw the embryo in her mind and asked the co-author. They established early that Kim’s psychic abilities are real and trusted.
Elly Kedward The Good Witch
While we know, the couple is present to amass more information for their book about The Blair Witch Project phenomenon, the movie waste no time sharing Erica’s intentions. On the ground and performing a small cleansing ritual, Tristine asks Erica about what she is doing, to which the Wiccan answers, “I want Elly to be my mentor.”
Erica explains that Elly Kedward used to be a good witch before she turned due to the village pilling against her. Erica wishes to undo the evil, mentioning that what you do comes back threefold. She uses Wicca terms to express what the world of witchcraft truly is. She says Wiccans do not believe in the devil and do not each human flesh, babies or otherwise.
It’s like Erica forgets that Elly Kedward killed multiple children. She instead focuses on the fact that Elly was tormented. It was by the children of Blair who accused her of witchcraft. Back in those days, witchcraft was a crime.
It was in the winter of 1785 that Elly died. The report stated that she died due to exposure to the environment. She was hung from a tree with stones tied to each of her limbs. It stretched her body down due to gravity.
In this movie, the children are quite evil with Elly. But in this movie, they added that children would go see if the witch died. They would cover their hands with her blood and press against her wounds.
The House We Are Looking For
The group arrives at Rusten Parr‘s house, but the foundation is all that’s left. Surrounded by stone walls, the group looks around. What surprises them is the gigantic old, tall, and large tree. Jeff quickly denies the presence of that tree before mentioning it would be impossible to build a house around it as it would go through it.
However, let’s rewind a bit to refresh our memory! Rustin Parr was the serial killer mentioned in The Blair Witch Project. In the 1940s, Rustin Parr was guilty of mercilessly killing seven children in the town of Burkittsville in Maryland.
The man said he was following the demands of the Blair Witch. However, he later expressed that he had no recollection of such atrocities. He told the priest he never killed anyone.
Rustin Parr is the core of the story as it’s the foreshadowing if you will. He did as commanded by the Blair Witch and later had no recollections of his actions. Right there, the movie could roll the credits!
Encounter Of The Fourth Kind
The group settled their camping site in Rustin Parr’s house’s foundation for the night. It takes no time for them to bring out the weed and alcohol. We see them dance and talk, slowly descending into intoxication.
After hearing a scream, the group stopped their activity and turned toward the sound. It was another tour guide for The Blair Witch Project with tourists from Scandinavia and China. The group suggests going to Coffin Rock to keep their camp, lying about experiencing strange things earlier in the day.
Let’s rewind again! Coffin Rock or Coffin Hill’s location is in the Black Hill Forest just outside Burkittsville in Maryland. An old trail takes anyone there quickly. The name comes from trappers. However, its history goes back to an ancient Native American tribe that slowly vanished after trying to save one of their boys that suffered at the hands of a dark force.
In 1886, an eight-year-old boy, Robin Weaver, disappeared, and a search party went on to look for him. Weaver returned, but the party never did. Their arms and legs were tied together while disembowelled when their bodies surfaced. It happened two weeks after Weaver came back.
Another foreshadowing for what comes later in the movie. Each story told in The Blair Witch Project serves as a map of what happens to our current group.
The Tapes Are Subliminal
After Tristine’s miscarriage in the woods, the group goes to Jeff’s home when waking up to snow of torn papers and broken cameras. I’m sparring you the scene at the Burkittsville hospital because the nurse dresses as they did in the 1950s, and the only sort of important scene is when Tristine sees a young dead girl walking backwards.
Jeff’s home is a little too on the nose! His house is an old, abandoned broom factory from the 1950s that he purchased for a dollar. Inside are endless electronic devices that he resells. According to what we know, the building located in Black Hills should be part of the Blair Witch curse.
The group, minus our couple, decided to watch the tapes to understand what happened earlier. Strangely enough, those somehow survived the night. They notice missing hours on the tape and fractions of another video that appears to be overexposure. After revisions and enhanced work on the tape, Jeff fixed the recordings.
The missing hours remain unknown, but they can make out the first blur. Erica, naked, dances backwards around a tree branch like a pole. Kim notices something too, there is no big old tree.
Fake News! Sensational News!
After the sheriff contacts Jeff to let him know, he has his eyes on him and orders him to watch the news. The news announced the brutal murder of a group of tourists and their guides, mimicking the horrifying murder of the search party of 1886. Time is running out.
The news mentions the limbs tied and disembowelment, which we all know, would not make the news due to its graphic notation. The reporters also say The Blair Witch Project is the source for whoever committed the crime.
We can feel the 1980s’ Satanic Panic taking form.
Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are
The reality of the group is to find what happened during the blackout of the cameras. It jumps from 1:32 AM to 3:58 AM and back to 1:32 AM. They know tapes can’t do that. But trying to find the missing hours is almost impossible.
Meanwhile, Tristine is falling into madness. Tristine reveals that she is having Elly’s nightmares. She speaks of her dreams mentioning what Elly went through during her lifetime. Stephen says they would leave in the morning, asking Erica to drive them to the airport.
However, after seeing herself dance around a tree backward and naked, Erica is a bit on edge. The following morning, after a hallucination about a sexual encounter between her and Stephen, who experienced the same thing, she vanishes.
Yes! You read that right! Erica vanishes. Death marks. Kim finds her clothing perfectly placed on the ground in her Wiccan circle she used the night before to perform a ritual. She showed markings of runes on her body, something she shared with Kim, Stephen, and Jeff.
Erica appears to the group at night after Tristine points her out the window in her delusional state. The Wiccan attracts Stephen outside only to break the bridge between the land and Jeff’s house. It serves to play tricks on the group’s mind when Jeff opens his gun locker, and Erica is naked facing the corner and dead as a doornail!
Remember the Blair Witch’s ritual on children later on repeated by Rustin’s Parr? They would bring the children down in pairs to the basement. One child would stand in the corner facing the wall while killing the other child. The killing involved disembowelment and carving of the Pagan alphabet with knives.
There is no doubt in the group’s mind that the blackout contains the answers to their situation.
Let It Go, Let It Go!
Kim had her own adventure while taking Jeff’s van to get some beer and coffee. She went to the strange store in Black Hills where people act strange and seem from another century. When at the counter to pay for her purchase, the cashier and manager, Peggy, ignores Kim mentioning they hate witches.
Long story short, Kim held Peggy by the throat without pressure, paid for her beer and coffee and left. But on her way back, locals throw rocks at the back window, and seven children force her to swerve and hit a telephone pole. She barely damaged the fender and drove back to Jeff’s house.
Remember when I said the couple was to leave with Erica as their chauffeur in the morning? Well, the van was totalled, and Jeff wondered how Kim brought it back despite swearing it was nothing.
Tristine shows up where the group is reviewing the tapes again. She mentions a term, ‘widdershins.’
Widdershins stands for going counterclockwise. It means to take a course opposite to the sun’s rotation viewed by our hemisphere, the North. You always keep your movement to the left. The term dates back to the sixteenth century.
Tristine tells them about the words they kept hearing, but her husband mentions she needs to sleep. Something he kept repeating ever since the hospital, so manly of him, it falls on the pathetic side. However, Kim understands her and tells Jeff to play the tapes backwards, including the keys.
It was a decision they would soon regret as the missing hours showed them in a ‘demonic’ ritual following Tristen’s orders. They proceed into an orgy before receiving machetes, sax blades, and knives. They leave Rustin Parr’s house, and the rest is history.
The Puzzle Is Now Complete
We’re now in the Sheriff’s office where Jeff, Stephen and Kim are crying. They are horrified by what they saw, and files were thrown at them. Every tape, even Jeff’s house security or his own taping proving their innocence, showed their acts worthy of serial killers.
Jeff killed Erica. On tape, we see him naked, placing her clothes before shoving her facing the corner of his locker.
Stephen killed Tristine when she tried to beg for her life, and he pushed her off the railing with a rope around her neck. But after seeing the missing hours, Stephen remembered it as a possession. Tristine was Elly, and she taunted him to push her off after placing a noose around her neck.
Kim murdered Peggy at the store using the manager’s own nail file to puncture her throat. But that was not what happened, not in her memory.
Every evidence meant to protect them was now acting against them. Once again, we hear the media blaming The Blair Witch Project alongside the tapes with a subliminal message and witchcraft. That is how the movie ends.
My Personal Opinion
What I take from the movie is how they decided to use specific stories from The Blair Witch Project and use it to build the plot. We are focusing on false memories and ones that are missing. The location is what tells you precisely what the group did.
The subplot revolves around the idea of the mass hysteria The Blair Witch Project caused. We are talking about the subliminal taping, the ‘demonic’ ritual, the cult following, the ‘witches’ and ‘goths‘ reputation. The blueprint was obviously the 1980s for the latter.
Notice that I used quotations for the demonic ritual. It is a stereotype popularized by Hollywood as a horror factor in movies and series. Orgies are not demonic in any way and do not cause memory loss. For more information, I would strongly suggest visiting The Satanic Temple and reading about Demonolatry as well as Wicca.
If We Look A Little Deeper
The movie itself was quite entertaining and enjoyable. It is based on The Blair Witch Project mythology but can be seen as an extra and not a sequel. Despite the movie trying to sell itself as a re-enactment of thousands of hours of footage found in Black Hills.
The movie takes place in 1999 after the release of The Blair Witch Project movie. They don’t do the ‘found footage’ since it’s a re-enactment of the real thing, and we only have short camcorder sequences.
However, using a soundtrack from known artists such as Marilyn Manson kind of takes you out of the ‘based on real footage’ ambiance quickly. Of course, we know it’s not real, but if you want your audience immersed in your story, stick to it or don’t do it at all.
It Leaves Me With A Few Questions
Because we do not know why Jeff was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital, I deduced that he was subject to the Blair Witch’s haunting because he lived in Black Hills. His fixation on her might be the cause, but we don’t know the real answer.
My other question is, was the group living in a parallel reality while the Blair Witch took over their will? Or is it that they saw what they wanted to see on the tapes until they had no choice but to accept it? They were heavily intoxicated, surrounded by the myth of their favourite movie.
Remember? The husband didn’t believe in the witch. He believed it was mass hysteria carried on by the movie.
So, tell me, what do you believe?