05/23/2015  
Infected on DVD & Digital Video Jun 2See You in Valhalla on DVD May 26HeForShe Campaign Features Star-Studded Cannes ConversationDespite The Gods on DVD May 19The Gunman on Digital HD Jun 16 & Blu-ray Combo Jun 30So Bright Is the View on DVD May 26Bar Rescue: Toughest Rescues on DVD May 19

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Infected on DVD & Digital Video Jun 2...
See You in Valhalla on DVD May 26...
First look: Bill Murray in Netflix's "A Very Murray Chr...
'Late Show' Set Dismantled A Day After David Letterman ...
'Dancing With the Stars' Finale: Who Took Home the Gold...
Jane Fonda Admits She's 'Not Proud' of Plastic Surgery...
Everyone is missing the most important part of Louis C....
HeForShe Campaign Features Star-Studded Cannes Conversa...
Despite The Gods on DVD May 19...
Natalie Portman to Play Jackie Kennedy in Film About JF...



Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Book of Shadows—Blair Witch 2 (2000)

"Karma's a bitch."
- Erica Geerson (Erica Leerhsen)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: March 02, 2001

Stars: Kim Director, Jeffrey Donovan, Erica Leerhsen, Tristine Skyler, Stephen Barker Turner
Other Stars: Lanny Flaherty
Director: Joe Berlinger

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, sexuality and drug use
Run Time: 01h:30m:06s
Release Date: March 13, 2001
UPC: 012236115779
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ B-AA B-

DVD Review

The original The Blair Witch Project was made on a shoestring budget, cleverly marketed and greeted with critical acclaim and box-office success in 1999. The fall of 2000 brought Artisan's inevitable sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Director/co-writer Joe Berlinger, better known as a documentary filmmaker, opted for an unconventional approach, making a film about the cultural impact of the first movie rather than a direct sequel. In Book of Shadows, an opportunistic "Blair Witch Hunt" tour guide named Jeffrey Patterson (Jeffrey Donovan) leads a small group into the woods, consisting of Goth chick Kim Diamond (Kim Director), honest Wyccan Erica Garson (Erica Leerhsen), and writing/living team Tristen Ryler and Stephen Ryan Parker (Tristine Skyler and Stephen Barker Turner).

The film opens with a very funny mockumentary segment, based on the reactions of the real-life citizens of Burkittsville, the small town used as a location for the first film and regularly invaded by Blair Witch fans and souvenir seekers since its release. The tour group makes its way to the foundation of the Blair Witch house, shoots some video footage and parties down after dark. They wake up in the middle of the night to find their notes destroyed, their cameras missing, and their tapes concealed. After they successfully leave the woods, fiction and reality blur, and its members begin to turn on each other after the group is implicated in the brutal murder of another tour group at Coffin Rock.

Book of Shadows uses some handheld footage in the form of digital video material shot by the main characters, but the film's "reality" is depicted in standard 35mm, with solid lighting and cinematography that give Blair Witch 2 a more conventional look. The script's central conceit is based on questions of reality, in particular whether video footage is inherently more truthful than film, and the visual choices reinforce this idea nicely. The requisite references to the Blair Witch mythos include appearances by child-murderer Justin Parr and persecuted "witch" Elly Kedward, though the story as a whole treats the Blair Witch universe as a fictional creation, an obsession that may or may not be influencing the behavior of its characters in unhealthy ways. It's an intelligent and innovative approach to the subject, adding a self-referential layer that goes far beyond the fantasy of Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and the first act is written with a nice sense of humor to boot (including a Firesign Theatre reference!)

Unfortunately, the original and thought-provoking setup eventually becomes obscured by the standard-issue "scary" elements that dominate the flick. A cast of relative unknowns does a nice job of establishing their similarly-named, "typed" characters, though the Romero-esque social dynamics don't always play well onscreen; there are times when discussions feel pointless or a line delivery doesn't quite fit the energy of the scene. And some cheap-looking gory sequences added at the last minute are obviously tacked-on, inconsistent with the film's psychological underpinnings and far below Savini standards. There are some strikingly gorgeous visual moments involving owls, horrifying delusions, and Elly Kedward's unsettling phantom, but some don't quite work out as planned. Three barking dogs meant to evoke memories of The Omen aren't the right breed, and an overdubbed warning by Kedward's ghost is too overt, sidestepping the complexities of the script, though the climax is still left open to interpretation.

In the end, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 tries to be an intelligent comment on Blair Witch hysteria as well as a commercial horror film, and the two goals clash with each other in irreconcilable ways. Fans of the horror genre may find its ambiguities maddening, while those intrigued by the fresh concept may be disappointed by the more conventional trappings. But it's certainly watchable, and deserves another look if you passed it by during its theatrical run.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Book of Shadows is presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, with a stable, sharp-looking anamorphic transfer. Detail is crisp, color is rich, and shadow detail is just excellent, a critical factor in this generally dark production. Nothing less should be expected of such a recent release, but Artisan's transfer is still very impressive.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Artisan presents Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 in English Dolby Digital 5.1, French 2.0 Surround and Spanish 2.0 Surround. The 5.1 track is very nice, with active, well-imaged surrounds providing a subtle sense of foreboding throughout, and the hybrid Carter Burwell/hard rock soundtrack benefits from comprehensive frequency range, a broad soundstage and firm LFE bass. The more limited 2.0 tracks still make good use of the rear surround channel, though the dubbing in both cases sounds artificial and less than fully committed to the action. No complaints here; the digital theatrical audio survives the transition to DVD with flying colors.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Screenplay
Production Notes
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Joe Berlinger
Packaging: other
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. The Secret of Esrever
  2. DVD-ROM Extras
  3. DVD+CD—Complete Music Score and Bonus Tracks
  4. Selected Scene Commentary by Composer Carter Burwell
Extras Review: Artisan supports Blair Witch 2 with a bevy of supplements, though many are accessible only to DVD-ROM users, knocking this grade down a notch. Standard DVD-Video features include 25 illustrated text-menu chapter stops, though subtitles are not provided. A strong lineup of extras includes the following:

DVD+CD—Complete Music Score and Bonus Tracks

An interesting technical innovation provides Carter Burwell's evocative, semi-industrial score in standard audio CD format on the flipside of the DVD (though usage in car audio systems is discouraged for some reason). It's a nice feature, and also includes soundtrack selections by Godhead, Tony Iommi and Steaknife, with an additional live performance of The Reckoning by Godhead.

Production Notes:

Substantial on-screen text pages discussing the film's context and approach.

Director's Commentary:

Director/co-screenwriter Joe Berlinger discusses the genesis and execution of the project, providing considerable insight into his concept and intent that aids in appreciation of the film (as well as explaining that certain cheesy gore scenes were added at the last minute!) Berlinger also makes note of a few flubs, in-jokes and references to other horror movies that might otherwise go unnoticed, as well as brief comments on lighting and special effects. It's an honest and listenable track.

Keepcase Booklet:

Berlinger provides a lengthy "Director's Statement" in the printed booklet, though it covers much the same territory as his commentary; there's also a small sidebar on the film's score.

Carter Burwell's Select Scene Breakdown Commentary:

Composer Carter Burwell discusses his approach to three selected scenes from the film over selections from his evocative score, going into heavy detail about specific cues, sounds and the effects he was trying to achieve. Brief, but very insightful; unfortunately, his third set of comments is cut off prematurely at the end.

Cast & Crew:

The standard bio/filmography material, covering the five main cast members, director Joe Berlinger, co-screenwriter Richard Beebe, executive producers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez (creators of The Blair Witch Project) and the production designer, John Waters regular Vincent Peranio.

The Secret of Esrever:

A puzzle providing hints for locating hidden images in the main attraction, though its interactivity is heavily limited by its backward compatibility (no pun intended) with the VHS release.

DVD-ROM Features:

Unfortunately, some of the disc's most promising features are available only in PC-compatible DVD-ROM format, so I was unable to test them out. The listed DVD-ROM features include a Shooting Script Simul-View feature, a never-before-seen Theatrical Trailer, Bonus Scenes, "and many more extras." It would have been nice to see the video features available in a more accessible format.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 deserves a second look after its disastrous theatrical run; while it doesn't completely work as a horror film, its self-referential take on the Blair Witch phenomenon makes it much more interesting than most such sequels. Artisan's feature-laden DVD sports an excellent transfer, and the pioneering CD soundtrack included on the flipside is a great addition to the package. Check this one out sometime.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

sci-fi, drama, television, a very murray christmas, bill murray, netflix, sophia coppola, george clooney, amy poehler, chris rock, paul shaffer, rashida jones, miley cyrus, the late show, david letterman, ed sullivan theater, taco bell, dancing with the stars, abc, rumer willis, riker lynch, noah galloway, val chmerkovskiy, celebrity, jane fonda, mile high club, plastic surgery, grace and frankie, saturday night live, louis c.k., racism, israel-palestine, movies, cannes, documentary, movie, jackie, jackie kennedy, darren aronofsky, pablo larrain, pitch perfect 2, rebel wilson, super fun night, derek hough, nastia liukin, american idol, fox, jennifer lopez, harry connick jr., keith urban, ryan seacrest, gary newman, daytime soap, general hospital, anthony geary, genie francis, frank valenti, mad max: fury road, mel gibson, george miller, tom hardy, hugh keays-byrne, charlize theron, the cw, arrow, the vampire diaries, supernatural, the originals, jane the virgin, the flash, the 100, izombie, reign, beauty and the beast, action, afc football championship game, jim mcnally, john jastremski, tom brady, bill belichick, music, prince, baltimore, rally 4 peace, freddie gray, 3rdeyegirl, metropolitan museum of art gala, kim kardashian, chloe sevigny, john paul gaultier, georgia may jagger, sarah jessica parker, rihanna, comedy, scifi, joss whedon, the avengers, chris evans, cris hemsworth, samuel l. jackson, scarlett johansson, jerem renner, revenge, manhattan love story, selfie, the mccarthys, the millers, gracepoint, mulaney, red band society, utopia, bad judge, dallas, 10th birthday party, kelly monaco, maks chmerkovskiy, meryl davis, hemorrhage, australia, tokyo, san francisco golden gate, docuementary

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store