The movie picks up a couple of months after the first film left off. Supposedly, it’s a “fictionalized re-enactment of events that occurred after the release of The Blair Witch Project.” (I don’t think anybody bought that true-story stuff this time around, despite the actors once again using their real first names.) The Blair Witch has become extremely commercialized, with flocks of tourists upsetting the locals by tramping through the Burkittsville woods. One such group is the Blair Witch-Hunt, comprised of tour guide Jeff (Jeffrey Donovan), couple Stephen (Stephen Barker Turner) and Tristen (Tristine Skyler), who are researching a book on group hysteria, Erica (Erica Leerhsen), a Wiccan wanting to commune with the Witch, and Kim (Kim Director), a psychic goth who “thought the movie was cool.” After a night of drinking and drugs, they wake up to find the campsite destroyed and have no recollection of the last five hours. Good thing there are tapes, and they head out to Jeff’s place to examine them. Meanwhile their behavior becomes erratic and irrational, prompting the idea that they brought something back with them.
I for once have no gripes. Few people from the original movie were involved (one of my criteria for a good sequel), but judging by director Joe Berlinger’s notes in the DVD booklet, he understood the ideas behind the first one. It follows the logic closely, and while it adds details about the Blair Witch, the mystery is still maintained. It’s witty how the first film is fiction in the world of the second movie. It contributes to the theme of questioning reality—is reality perception alone? Does believing in something make it real? As the five of them watch their uncharacteristic behavior on the tapes—for example a naked Erica swinging around a tree—they all state they could never act that way. Stephen tries to tell the sheriff that what’s on the tapes isn’t what really happened. But “video never lies.” Though of course the first viewing is the most shocking, I find there are still some moments that were disturbing the second time, like a flashback of Jeff’s past in a mental hospital; he’s force-fed through a tube in his nose by a particularly evil-looking medical staff. The opening credits are also rather creepy; they’re crosscut with a person being stabbed and hung, accompanied by Marilyn Manson’s “Disposable Teens.”
One of my favorite aspects of the film is Erica, a fairly authentic Wiccan. She dispels a few tiresome movie stereotypes about witches, citing the Wiccan creed “harm none.” She also states, “I don’t even believe in the devil. That’s a Christian concept.” Thank you! But the character I like best is Kim (see above), who’s a surlier and jaded version of my sister’s friend, also named Kim. Though nowhere near as eerie and revolutionary as the original film, it’s clever and involving.