Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm once more highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

For those who tuned in last year, I subjected you to a daily dose of diabolical dread and devilish distress. Just as every good horror movie deserves an inferior sequel, I offer this follow-up of also-rans, not bads, and perhaps a couple of you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-mes.

Unleashed: 2000

Jeffrey Donovan and Erica Leerhsen

“Being a spy is like being in a movie everyone hates…”

What evil lurks: An unfairly-maligned meta-sequel that is in many ways cleverer, though not nearly as good or frightening as its predecessor. It’s also the reason that studios greenlight sequels that are virtually identical to their forerunners. Audiences positively hate when you don’t give them the exact same thing they saw before (also refer to the legendary failure that is Halloween III). If you’re willing to let the first film stand on its own and not expect a repeat, there are some real nuggets of interest here. It’s much more of a psychological thriller that steps outside of itself, looks inward, and finds a completely different angle from which to attack its mythological roots. Everything about this film, from its plot to its polish to its structure, sets it drastically apart from its source material and, if nothing else, I applaud the filmmakers boldness for daring to try something new and unique.

Highlight from hell: The nicely twisted ending that brings all of the baffling pieces together.

Terrifying trivia: As with the first film, this sequel incorporated an extensive online marketing campaign. Several hidden words are sprinkled throughout the film that viewers can use to add their names to a list of those who bothered to decode the secret message.

Diabolical dialogue: “They never should’ve let you out. You’re a long way from sane.”

Son of: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994). Before he popularized the “meta” genre with his Scream series, Wes Craven created it with this remarkably clever ghost story that turns Freddy the fictional character into Freddy the bona-fide boogeyman trying to break free of his fictional bonds.

Shoddy sequel syndrome: It’s certainly not going to win any acting awards, particular from Jeffery “My name is Michael Westen” Donovan.