Almost everyone it seems watched 2011’s found footage flick, Grave Encounters, and I don’t think I talked to a single person that disliked it. I also enjoyed it, and although it didn’t get the big theatrical release and publicity that Paranormal Activity, the superstar it shares a sub-genre with, I think it was just as good—if not better. I liked it enough to pursue the sequel, Grave Encounters 2, that was released in 2012, also written by the Vicious Brothers but this time directed by Canadian director John Poliquin.
The film starts out as a montage of various horror fans critiquing and reviewing the first film via YouTube. One of these critics, Alex (Richard Harmon), happens to be our protagonist. After his review is finished we enter the camera of his college roommate, Trevor (Dylan Playfair), who feels it is necessary to film every moment of his life (as all people in found footage films do), including dumb parties.
Seriously, I almost turned this movie off within the first ten minutes because I was really getting sick of the fucking frat boy/stoner jargon. But… I trudged through the scene that seemed to last a lifetime, pleased to see that on the other side of it was an actual movie.
He gets a mysterious video response to his Grave Encounters review by from a YouTube account called “deathawaits”. Alex begins to feel suspicious about the film after looking into contacting the cast and crew, only to find that they have all disappeared. He suspects that the film was not just another found footage flick, but real found footage, a suspicion that is confirmed by the shady producer.
The idea of a sequel in which a fan becomes obsessed with the original film isn’t completely unheard of (see: The Human Centipede 2. Actually, don’t), but it still fresh and interesting. Grave Encounters 2 is no masterpiece, it isn’t sophisticated, and it isn’t even really a thrill ride, but it is entertaining and atmospheric as hell. It is kind of like walking through one of those staged haunted houses that pop up around Halloween; you walk through the creepy sets, clinging to a friend’s arm knowing that any second something is going to scare the shit out of you—but you don’t care! That is why you’re there, after all. It has got the sounds (lack of score is essential to that special flavor of found footage we have come to know so well), the visuals, and yeah, it is fuckin’ freaky. You could ask more of a film like this, but if it has done its job and has fulfilled all it set out to achieve, then you are just being an asshole.
Another trend that these two films feed off of and are even making fun of is the paranormal investigative reality TV shows. There are dozens of them, and they are pretty much all the same. You know what I’m talking about. A team of paranormal investigators pick haunted locations (often old tuberculosis wards and mental institutions) and walk around with night-vision cameras on and pretend to see shit.
That might have gone a little off topic… okay, here is my abbreviated opinion: I had a great time watching Grave Encounters 2, even if the acting was shite and the ending was all over the place. I’d watch continuing sequels of it over Ghost Bros any day.