Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 director Joe Berlinger has defended his 2000 film, suggesting that the studio's interference could have been the reason why the film fared badly with critics Artisan Entertainment

When it comes to any movie genre, those making sequels are always under a certain amount of pressure for their work to live up to the original. In terms of horror, presenting a worthy follow-up is arguably even harder, as the director and writers attempt to conjure up a new plot and frights that the audiences won't have seen before.

While it's difficult, it is possible, with films such as Aliens, 28 Weeks Later and The Conjuring 2 all proving so. But when the studio starts butchering your vision, the whole thing can become painful, according to film-maker Joe Berlinger.

Talking about his 2000 film Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, which was a sequel to Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick's The Blair Witch Project from a year before, the 54-year-old told Deadline that "the studio [Artisan Entertainment] recut and inserted scenes of gore against [his] will and [that he] didn't have the courage back then" to just remove his name from the film.

"Then to be eviscerated by critics on a cut of the film that I did not sanction was doubly painful," he continued. "That's not to say that my director's cut would have garnered a better reaction from critics per se, but at least I could have stood by the film for representing my vision and if people hated that version, it would have been less painful because it's what I would have wanted to be seen.

"There is also this myth that the film was a financial disaster... In fact, it was still Artisan's second highest grossing film in their history, the highest being the original BW. It grossed $48m [£37m] worldwide on a $10m budget and did over $25m on DVD. That doesn't excuse the rushed production, the desire to monetise and capitalise on the first film's success by a new studio that was only interested in their IPO and the mediocre end creative result but people talk of this film as a total failure and franchise killer."

Berlinger's candid discussion was sparked by a series of tweets he wrote about the recent Blair Witch movie failing to impress at the US box-office after its release on 15 September, drawing comparison to his movie's earnings over a decade ago. "I have nothing but respect for [director] Adam Wingard and I hope [Blair Witch] is great; I haven't seen it yet," he concluded during the interview. "Ironically, I was in Toronto and just couldn't bring myself to go see it and relive the trauma."

Blair Witch (2016) trailer Lionsgate

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