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Written by Graham Reed  
Monday, 05 July 2004

What do you expect? Blair Witch 2? *duh*......





In comparison to its genre-busting sequel, "Blair Witch 2" was always going to be a hit or miss affair. With a 10 million budget and the huge expectations surrounding it, many wondered how it would work. For a start, it broke most of the rules of sequels.


One of the reasons why the original Blair Witch project was so successful because of its unconventional approach ,so by changing the formula completely and quite rightly so, this film could well misfire. Simply repeating the first film would have been a grave and unoriginal error, and thus this media-literate film (directed by documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger) opts to capitalise on the mythology of the first film rather than pretend it never happened. This films central premise breaks the fourth wall - it admits the first one was a work of fiction, and then suspends reality.


Gathering together a disparate group of youths for a Blair Witch camping expedition to revisit the legendary sites of the first film, once they camp out in the ruins of the house where the tapes for the first film were found, things start to go wrong. Seriously wrong. Hey, what did you expect? A happy ending?


Ironically, for a horror sequel, this film would have worked so much more effectively if it hadn't been weighed down with an air of such expectation so high the Empire State Building could never come close.


If this hadn't had the words "Blair Witch 2" at the beginning it would have been much more warmly received, but because of the essential premise, it could never escape the shadow of its legendary  redecessor. It was roundly slagged off by critics upon release, but a fresh viewing of this film shows it to be an effective psychological horror film, where nothing is quite what appears and all the characters have hidden agendas - or do they? While maintaining the mock- documentary style of the original - all the characters have the same names as the actors portraying them) - and dabbling with a mix of film stocks like the original (8mm, digital video, and traditional stock), while employing a sometimes ineffective flashback story, this film remains a decently crafted horror film.


The first half hour is certainly interesting - sending itself up with sharp and self-referential dialogue like a scream movie, but the shocks that soon follow - the horrifically biblical baby sequence, the hallucinations (or are they?)...


Critics seem to have roundly panned this as the worse sequel ever made since "Exorcist II". This simply ignores the fact that devoid of such high and self-made expectations, this film is a decent and effectively made media literate effective psychological horror film, with shocks and intrigue and plot twists that leave you guessing before thinking you've got it all wrong.


Well worth seeing, file Joe Berlinger under one of the directors to watch, for this shows promise far in excess of a simple cash in, which this isn't. What the critics expect - the reinvention of the wheel? That's not what they got, they got an interesting sequel that plays to its strengths and builds up an air of suspense to an unpredictable ending.


Some people were left disappointed by the first Blair Witch film, and these will be the same people who will be disappointed by this also.


As a DVD goes, it's interesting to note it includes a double disc  set including some worthwhile bonus material. It would have easy to dump this on the market as a single disc, but fortunately someone made some effort for this under-rated and intriguing sequel.


Commentary by Director Joe Berlinger
Shadow Of The Blair Witch documentary
Burkittsville 7 documentary
The Secret Of Esrever
Live Performance by Godhead
Cast & Crew Bios
Cast & Crew Interviews
Theatrical Trailers



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