This movie, though. It's a pseudo-documentary, like its successor. A documentarian, David Leigh, is attempting to figure out if Jim Suerd was guilty of murdering Locus Wheeler, Steven Avkast, and Rein Clackin in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. Wheeler and Avkast were the hosts of Fact or Fiction, a public-access show dealing with the paranormal. Following a viewer suggestion that they do a show on the mythical Jersey Devil, rumored to inhabit the Pine Barrens, the pair, along with sound-man Clackin and psychic guide Suerd, ventured into the woods one January night. Only Suerd came out alive. His clothes were covered in the blood of the other three. Two bodies were found, horribly mangled, and Avkast was never found. Suerd was quickly found guilty of murder, received two life sentences, and died in prison under mysterious circumstances. Using the film shot by the group on their ill-fated trip, Leigh is attempting to film a documentary on the murders. When a mysterious videotape arrives at his house the same day Suerd dies, Leigh becomes determined to figure out the mystery. He employs Michelle Monarch, a video specialist, to reconstruct the damaged tape to find evidence to clear or damn Suerd, who always protested his innocence. What she finds is surprising.
The similarities are pretty convincing. The search in a barren wilderness for an occult figure; the use of videos shot by the victims to reconstruct events; the documentary feel; an eerily familiar confrontation between two members of the group; all of these point to the fact that Myrick and Sanchez ripped this movie off. However, their film was so much more convincing. This one didn't produce that cloying feeling of dread and claustrophobia that Blair Witch did. Also, this one wouldn't have made it much past the creators' computers had Blair Witch not done so well.
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