Director: John Poliquin
Running Time: 95 Minutes
I watched the first Grave Encounters movie not knowing anything about it and never having heard of it. I loved the fresh take on an old genre and the take no prisoners attitude that this little movie had. Needless to say, I was excited when I heard that there was a sequel in the pipeline. As a general rule, we all know that sequels are always a bit of a hit and miss affair. I have rarely come across a sequel which equaled its predecessor in plot, acting and ingenuity. With the exception of classic sequels like Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and a few hallowed others, sequels a generally disappointing.
After the online acclaim that the first film garnered with 2 million hits on the Youtube trailer, a number of Vloggers are skeptical of the video’s authenticity. One man (more of a man-boy) thinks that the footage is real and goes out to prove everyone else wrong by collecting his own evidence at the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. Alex Wright (Richard Harmon) is a budding film student, so he has all the tools he will require at his disposal. He and a few friends head out in search of the truth. Soon, they find themselves locked into the hospital. All bets are off when you have to fight to survive.
Performances & Special Effects
Bland. The acting seemed forced at times. Alex was far too agitated early on in the film considering the narrative that was unfolding. His character was one-dimensional. The other characters were so uninteresting and dull that I cannot remember a single character name off the top of my head. In keeping with the theme of the first film, this one is also presented to us in the form of “found footage”. At times the camera shake felt unbearable. With an estimated budget of $1.4 million (US), I cannot believe how absolutely forgettable this film is. Especially, when you consider that the first film was produced on a budget of $80 000 (US) and it was a glorious piece of raw, evocative, white-knuckle fun.
When I was thinking about specific points I would like to make in this review, I realised that I could not remember a single stand-out scene from this film. With most good horror films, there are usually a few scenes that stay with the viewer. The clap scene in The Conjuring, the woman sawing off her own arm with an electric carving knife in Evil Dead, and so forth. The one scene I kinda remember is a dude being flung out of a window…
But that’s all I’ve got. The special effects were standard, at best. They weren’t bad but they weren’t the caliber of FX I was expecting after seeing the first film. Maybe I should stop comparing the films to each other and look at GE2 on its own. Well, life isn’t fair and if you stand it the shadow of greatness expect to be judged against that greatness, and in this case, found wanting.
Continuity within a franchise is one thing, and I admire filmmakers who understand and respect film/story/plot canon, but it must be said that continuity is not mimicry. This film tries to set itself apart for it predecessor by “changing” the characters but they all end up looking like lesser versions of the adult counterparts:
- Alex the young film student vs. Lance the up and coming reality TV star
- Jared Lee the badass minority vs. T. C. Gibson the badass skeptic
- Stephanie Bennett the girlfriend vs. Sasha Parker the Occult Specialist
- the list goes on…
What saddens me further is that the preliminary footage (interviews, film shoots, ect.) was so boring! Gone was the goofy comedic relief that the first film set us up with. It was replaced with a brooding banshee of a man-boy who would not listen to reason. The general premise of the film was tired and even though it share similarities with its predecessor, the story was lacking. The first film had the reality TV element, which was new to the genre but in Grave Encounters 2, if you remove the vlogging and online aspects, it’s exactly as unimaginative as all the other found footage films that have come before it.
By the end of the film, I understood why people were being killed off but I still didn’t understand what sparked the haunting of this particular location. I didn’t understand why the ghosts were there and why they all suffered from the same time-warp face.
I admit that I could just be on the slow side and not have caught the explanations for the things I just mentioned because I was so bored. I doubt that a bout of illegal lobotomies would result in someone’s lower jaw constantly distending in the afterlife. There are just too many unanswered question by the end of this film. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a well done open-ended film just as much as the next person. In fact, the open-endedness of VHS and Inception was one of the primary reason I like and enjoyed those films. An open-ended film should leave you with questions that spark debate, not plot holes and speculation. I kinda feel like these are plot holes. This movie just devolved into crazy vs.crazy.
Where the first film reinvigorated my appreciation of the found footage genre, this film killed it by being every reality found footage cliché. The fact that I watched this with friends, and was not even vaguely entertained, has dictated my rating.
My Rating: 2/5
Buy or rent Grave Encounters 2 on Amazon.
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