The Blair Witch Project had a boring core idea (three people lost in the woods), but the verve of the filmmakers made it work. The verisimilitude the film achieved put the audience in the woods with those very distinct personalities. Book of Shadows starts with a great premise. Having people tour the fictional location of the original film provides fertile ground to add to the mythology of the first film, while simultaneously poking fun at its gargantuan success. The major problem with Book of Shadows is laid out by one of the main characters. He informs the others, "Videotape doesn't lie." The audience is treated to video images of the gang committing horrible acts they don't remember performing. Other events occur, but then the audience sees them differently on videotape. The viewer has no ability to discern what actually transpired that night. Since there seem to be no rules for the audience to follow, and not a single interesting character to care about, frustration and apathy set in. Blair Witch worked because the real world was palpable. Since the audience never saw anything that wasn't plausible, there was no need for them to question their suspension of disbelief. The original film felt like an inspiration, but the follow-up feels like a construction.
by Perry Seibert review