Director:  Joe Berlinger

Starring: Kim Director, Jeffrey Donovan, Erica Leerhsen, Tristine Skyler

A group of fans visit Burkittsville, where The Blair Witch Project was filmed.

The Blair Witch Project polarized reaction between those who thought it was one of the most chilling movies ever made, and those who thought it was simply execrable. It was, quite simply, one of those films that you either “got” or didn’t. The film’s brilliant marketing campaign included documentaries and Internet sites that blurred reality with fiction. That process is continued in the brain-bending sequel, which begins with the premise that a group of fans of the Blair Witch movie are making a pilgrimage to Burkittsville, the location of the film and/or the original murders. Directed by noted documentary maker Joe Berlinger, the sequel both complements and contradicts the 1999 film.

Momentum have presented the film in a two-disc set, but this is slightly misleading (presumably in an attempt to hoodwink potential customers), since they’re both DVD-5 discs, more or less the equivalent of a single dual-layer disc (and exactly the same capacity of a dual-sided, single-layer disc!) 

The film itself was shot on a variety of formats, making independent evaluation difficult, but the 1.78:1 anamorphic DVD transfer seems free of newly introduced digital artefacts. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix (at 448kbps) is expansive, and should give most home theatre set-ups a good workout. The UK DVD version differs significantly from the US release, which was an odd hybrid of DVD on one side, and the soundtrack CD on the other. This disc also featured a selection of scenes with commentary by composer Carter Burwell, which don’t appear on the Region 2 disc. The UK version contains two documentaries that more than compensate, adding even more layers to the myth and mystery: the Sci-Fi Channel’s Shadow of the Blair Witch (45 minutes) and The Burkittsville 7 (40m). The UK disc also contains sit-down interviews with cast and crewmembers (16m) and a couple of theatrical trailers. Both versions include an excellent commentary track by Berlinger (who explains how production company Artisan significantly tampered with his film, attempting to jazz it up with additional footage), a music track by the band Godhead (4m) and a couple of gimmicky Easter egg features.

The merits of Book of Shadows as a feature film are debatable but fans of the original Blair Witch movie are very well served by the sequel, by Momentum’s disc, and, specifically, by its bonus materials, which significantly enhance the feature. Potential viewers who have been dissuaded from seeing the film by the lacerating reviews should perhaps make up their own minds.


Site content copyright © J.A.Knott - 2002-2005