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     " r to put it more aptly: If a witch killed another bunch of annoying assholes in the forest and no one was around hear it, would anyone care? "

      Title: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 courtesy of your sadistic friends at Artisan Home Entertainment

      Format: DVD-Horror

      Reviewing Monkey: EEGAH!

      The Hype: Coming so fast on the heels of last year's "The Blair Witch Project" that it almost laps its predecessor "Book of Shadows" was hastily slapped together and thrown at the screen to see if it stuck. Needless to say it didn't and fell to the ground with a diarrhetic splat.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Story and Acting: Operating on the assumption that "The Blair Witch Project" was just a movie, "Book of Shadows" is the story of a group of young wasteoids with an unhealthy fascination with all things Blair and witchy who want to experience the setting for themselves and validate their seemingly vain and useless lives. Several of your most favorite character clichés round out this gaggle of tourists, including your pseudo-intellectual whiny writer and his equally irritating and neurotic girlfriend, Wiccan historical revisionist, psychic Goth bitch (Goth bitch, that's really beating a dead horse), and last but not least everyone's favorite just released from the loony bin tour guide with a dubious grip on reality. So we're not off to a good start.
          This intrepid group of dumb-asses sets off into the Black Hills of Maryland for a fun filled weekend of visiting the various sites depicted in "The Blair Witch Project" and sleeping out under the stars. Somewhere along the way they manage to find time to squeeze a pot and alcohol fueled satanic orgy and bloody slaughter of a rival tour group into their itinerary. Then they settle in for the night. The rest of the story is an utterly complex puzzle that must be pieced together from video footage of the preceding night's events. In the end the question that it poses is this: Did it all really go down that way or was it the Blair Witch mojo? Or to put it more aptly: If a witch killed another bunch of annoying assholes in the forest and no one were around hear it, would anyone care?
          The story is a genuine original. I say that because every single person in the free thinking world up until this point has had the good fortune to have been eluded by the combination to this shit-locker. Not that anyone hasn't tried before but the tumblers just haven't fallen into place. I'm pretty sure that the elements that were combined to make this ungodly pile somehow unlocked the Seventh Seal and hastened our pace towards the impending Ragnarok. I myself look forward to the sweet release of being dashed against the teeth of the mighty Fenriz, as it will finally erase this atrocity from my weary brain.
           Now as for the acting, "Book of Shadows" operates on the same principle as "The Blair Witch Project" in that less is often more. In this case, though, less is really just less. The acting is so inconsistent that it's as if you're on Space Mountain with a bi polar operator. There's a lot of underplaying interspersed with moments of extreme overacting.
          If you were to put the performances of "Book of Shadows" and "Dark Shadows" on display next to one another K-Mart blue light style, I'll give you one guess as to which would be the last Velcro tie shoe left in the bin. Acting 0 out 5 and in case I have to spell it out for you that's a 0 out of 5 for the story as well.

      Action: Not much in the way of that here. The few scenes where you do see actions taking place employ the MTV hack-and-slash editing style coupled with poor (read artistic) lighting techniques. It's a concerted effort to build suspense and mystery but the only thing it succeeds in building is confusion. 0 out of 5

      Visuals and Directing: As much as I hate this movie, I'd like to offer up my defense of Joe Berlinger. The only way I can find to explain it is a case of temporary insanity. Fortunately for Joe, with the minute attention spans of Hollywood executives, likely no one will remember it in a month's time.
          Truthfully Berlinger was the ideal person to direct this film. "Book of Shadows" was fertile ground to employ some of the thematic elements that his "Paradise Lost" and the Blair Witch mythos had in common. Unfortunately "Book of Shadows" is long on visual appeal but much like a gas station cheeseburger, it's just empty calories.
          Footage was still being shot up to two weeks before the film was set to open. The closer it got to its release, the less enthusiastic the director sounded about it in interviews. This was the first red flag (or second depending on how you felt about the first film).
          Instead of the studio adding new material in an attempt to squeeze it out the production crapshoot they should have just shut it down and claimed it as an end of year tax write off. 1 out of 5 just because Joe could've been Jesus and this movie still would have sucked.

      Sound Track: With the exception of one or two bands this soundtrack is made up of MTV buzz bands providing tracks that have little to do with the movie and do nothing to enhance the ambience either. Message to Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Godhead: you really must be more discerning about which movies you lend your name to. 0 out of 5

      DVD Extras: A whole half hour or more of "extras" which appear as if they were filmed for a Sci-Fi Channel special. By far the most laughable feature is the section titled "The Secret of Esrever" which, if you'll notice, is "reverse"…spelled in reverse. Basically, they filmed a bunch of stuff and cut it into the movie like a bunch of little Easter eggs. It only makes any sense, though, if you're able to catch it (you won't) and have the patience and interest to play it back frame-by-frame in reverse. Regardless, they are stupid and have no significance even in the context of the scene in which they are hidden.
          There are also two commentary tracks. One with director Joe Berlinger that runs the full length of the movie and the other with the composer, which isolates only the scenes that actually utilize the score. The latter would only interest you if you're an ambient noise enthusiast and the sound of someone urinating on rocks is a fascinating new concept to you.
          There were also some deleted scenes, which were accessible on your PC. Now there's something I could never quite understand. You're watching the movie on your DVD player then to access those extra features you have to take it out and put it in your PC. True, and if I weren't so lazy I'd have paid to see it in the theater in the first place instead of waiting five months to watch it on DVD. SCREW YOU! I want the friggin' features right goddamn now!
          Regardless, I couldn't access the omitted scenes anyway. I don't know if this was a computer problem or a glitch in the DVD. I didn't care to troubleshoot it either. 0 out of 5

      Value vs. Price: Honestly, "Book of Shadows" isn't even worth renting to make fun of. Very few movies can boast this. 0 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       Perhaps the most egregious example of Hollywood trying to capitalize on a successful endeavor at the viewer's expense. If you were ever for want of proof that Hollywood is always looking for new and ingenious ways to part you from your money but doesn't care whether you live, die, or grow mushrooms in your crack, "Book of Shadows" should prove more than adequate.
       And on a more personal note, I make it a point to watch and listen to every (and I do mean every) feature on each DVD before I review it. However the film itself and the five-minute "Esrever" feature were all I had the patience to sit through. This movie is an exasperating venture if ever there was one.

      The Good: Erica Leerhson cast as a Wiccan under two hundred-thirty pounds and displaying her uncommonly Wiccan goodies. I'm just reaching at this point. I don't want to give anyone the impression that there is any good to be gleaned from this movie.

      The Bad: Pitiful beginning to end.

      The Overall Ugly: One of the other Monkeys (whose name I won't mention but rhymes with Pungapult) said it wasn't quite as bad "Battlefield Earth" and an improvement over "The Blair Witch Project". Now I've heard it said that there are no right or wrong opinions and for what it's worth I would normally agree with this, but with statements like that I just can't keep up the pretense anymore. "Book of Shadows" is just one more brick in the wall movie excreta that 2001 has bestowed upon us, and anyone who thinks different should step forward and say as much so you may claim your invitation to a red-ass beat down, compliments of yours truly and sock full of silver dollars.

      What it's Worth: There's no such thing as a bargain when it comes to "Book of Shadows". It doesn't even make a good gift. In fact, if grandma Mildred who's two days older than Methuselah gives it to you as a X-mas present you have my permission, actually my encouragement, to punch her right in her toothless maw.

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