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Seasons (and Seasons) of the Witch
Not to spoil the ending for those who haven’t yet seen The Blair Witch Project, but surely all devoted Blairites knew that a sequel was inevitable after that stirring final sequence in which the three Montgomery College film students triumphantly escape from the dense Burkittsville forest, having defeated the witch with their lightsabers. Still, last week’s announcement of two new Blair Witch films in development was bewildering.
According to Artisan Entertainment, which owns the Blair Witch franchise, the second film in the series will be directed by Joe Berlinger, who’s best-known for his 1992 film, Brother’s Keeper. This is a strange choice. Brother’s Keeper was an OK film and all, but it was painfully low-budget, visually undistinguished, and shot mostly with handheld camera. The thing looked like a documentary, for God’s sake.
The good news is that the third movie in the series, Artisan has announced, will be directed by the original’s creators, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. Turning Blair Witch into a series will have a number of advantages for Myrick and Sanchez, including the chance to reconstruct the entire town of Burkittsville and its environs on a back lot in their home base, Orlando, Fla. No more tramping around in the damp, chilly Maryland woods, where you never know what might happen.
The danger is that Blair Witch will become just another horror series, like the Halloween, Elm Street, and Scream flicks. There’s an obvious solution to that possibility, however. Rather than emphasize the “horror” aspect of the franchise, turn instead to the “series” aspect. That could yield such sequels as:
The Witch Strikes Back In tribute to Irvin Kershner, the man who proved that it doesn’t matter who directs a sequel or what it’s about.
The Road to Burkittsville Re-establish the Bing Crosby-Bob Hope franchise. A great comeback vehicle for Rick Springfield and Chevy Chase.
You Only Witch Twice Following the model of the longest-running series in contemporary cinema, remake the witch as a suave, globe-trotting operative who has to beat the chicks off with a broomstick.
MacBlair It’s a natural, and a welcome respite from the Mel
Gibson/Kenneth Branagh/Ethan Hawke renditions of Hamlet.
The Blair Witch vs. Mothra Why? Because Godzilla is too obvious.
Music of the Witch Following Wes Craven’s example, the witch escapes a bad marriage and begins teaching violin to no-hope kids in the toughest schools in Frederick County.—Mark Jenkins