Panels From Beyond the Grave #25


So we've reached panel numero...um, Spanish for 25. I thought I'd go all out for this edition by reviewing a tie-in to a movie that I don't care about. In retrospect, I probably should have chosen a comic that lubricates my spindles and tallows the synapses that mobilize my geekdom. But Blair Witch: Dark Testaments was on top of the stack. That tends to make my selection process a bit easier. Let me fill you in on where I stand as it relates to Blair Witch regalia. I saw The Blair Witch Project in 1999, and since I had read countless articles delineating the concept of the film beforehand, I was left inexorably unmoved by the final product. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. It was just there.

I saw Book of Shadows the following year. Yeah, I didn't care for that one. Since then, I haven't given an allusive thought to the squib-like success of the Blair Witch saga or the enduring stream of vendibles inspired by its ersatz mythos. These movies were shoved down our throats. It doesn't take much to browbeat me into submission (I'm referring to marketing here...get your mind out of the gutter), and unless the motion picture in question is positively peerless, the mere utterance of the title will impel me to tune out. That's partly why I haven't bothered with the Paranormal Activity franchise. I'm fucking tired of seeing the same TV spots over and over again. Know what I mean, Vern? Woah...I don't know where that came from. It won't happen again. I promise.

Oh, this is a comic book column, isn't it? Dark Testaments is a snappy, sententious prequel that delves into the story of Rustin Parr. In my write-up of Pumpkinhead: The Rites of Exorcism, I opined that its plot should have been used as the foundation for a sequel. This backwoods tale of murder and mysticism presents a similar conundrum. While Dark Testaments has its fair share of pockmarks (and I'll get to those in a second), it would have expedited a more engrossing film than Book of Shadows, provided that it was tailored by qualified artisans. At least it does something with the actual witch. Writer Ian Edginton postulates that the titular enchantress gifts barren women with children in exchange for stillborn infants. Naturally, the anagogic anklebiters grow up in the grip of her malevolence.

It's a neat idea, and I'd be interested to see where it could be taken. Unfortunately, a hefty chunk of the comic is encumbered with awkward dialogue and erratic pacing. Too many pages can be summed up by saying, "A lot of weird shit kind of happens." There is no urgency, no sense of direction. I dig one-shots, but only when the writer deflects formalities. Don't fuck around. You are proffered a finite amount of ink to exploit, so deliver the goods with a quickness. The artwork? It's alright, I suppose. I didn't pick up on any standout images, which is a tough detriment to excuse. After all, this is a visual medium. Personally, I would have thrown in a few random profiles of Mothra to leaven the yeast, so to speak.

Blair Witch: Dark Testaments won't bowl you over, but it's a serviceable read. Fans of the series probably got more out of it than I did.

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