Roger Ebert once compiled a list of a thousand things not to do in a horror movie: don't split up to search for the killer/monster, never go in the basement when the power is out, etc... I don't remember if it's listed, but one of the criteria should be - don't return to the scene of the crime - any camper at Crystal Lake or insomniac living on Elm Street can tell you that. Someone should have told that to the witch hunters headed for Burkittsville.
The "sequel" opens with snippets of news stories documenting the effect the first movie had on the people of Burkittsville and highlights the fact that it was pure fiction. Our intrepid travelers - consisting of a Wiccan, a Goth chick, two researchers, and a their recently released mental patient guide- are determined to find out for themselves whether or not there is anything to the legend of the Blair Witch.
After a night of binge drinking and special enhancement, they awake to discover that, small surprise, five hours of their life is missing, but not in the normal god-I'll-never-drink-again-hangover way, but the there's-something-spooky- X-files kind of way. The question on everyone's mind is what happened.
"The Blair Witch Project" either scared you stupid or bored you silly, but there's no disputing its success - costing only $30,000 (depending on who you believe), it brought in $200 million plus at the box office. The marketing for the film was brilliant - extensive pre-release coverage, Internet hype (the website's "Missing" posters, video clips, and legend of the witch drew hundreds of thousands of hits), and its jerky video style, was the ultimate manipulation of the reality TV concept. The combination worked so well that many people were convinced that the events onscreen actually transpired. Much to its detriment, "Book of Shadows" dissociates itself from the very conventions that made the original fresh.
I'm suspicious of any horror movie that peppers its press release with phrases like "amorphous villains", " general conflation" and "devolving psychological state". 'Book of Shadows' demonstrates a classic maxim - a big budget does not necessarily mean a better film. Although this movie boasts a heavy hitting soundtrack, and is helmed by a talented director (ironically renowned for his skill as a documentary filmmaking) it falls prey to the curse of the sequel. And how.
Plagued by stilted dialogue, a disjointed plot that jumps around needlessly, characters that are pale representations of people and horribly amateurish special effects (the animatronic owl would not have fooled a child) there is little to recommend this movie. More frustrating is the violence - intended to be shocking, the sequences are poorly filmed and the blood so obviously fake, that the scenes lose any impact they might have had. The ultimate death knell for 'Book of Shadows' however is that it is guilty of being a horror film that isn't frightening.
The only terror you will experience watching this film, is the time you've lost, and sadly you will know exactly what happened.