Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grave Encounters 2: Another Dose Of Creepy Reality/Found Footage Fare

~Review by Marie Robinson

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.

Alex doesn’t just review horror movies in his spare time, he lives for them (relatable). He is studying at film school to be “the next Wes Craven”, but from the glimpses we get of his student film—starring his love interest, Jennifer (Leanne Lapp)—it looks like he has got a ways to go.

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.

With encouragement from “deathawaits” and a thirst for the truth—and some potential “Sundance worthy” footage—he convinces his friends to accompany him to the set of Grave Encounters, an actual abandoned asylum on the outskirts of Vancouver.

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.

Sure, Grave Encounters uses some of the most textbook tropes in the genre, but as a fan I kind of enjoyed it. I mean, the conventional cast of creepy characters exist for a reason—the little girl with the long, dark hair, nurses, psychotic, lobotomy-obsessed doctors—and that is because they are scary!

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.

"Ghost Bros"
 There are a few of these programs I am guilty of liking (Ghost Hunters, Scariest Places on Earth), but there is one that I really abhor. It is called Ghost Adventures but I have fondly dubbed it “Ghost Bros”. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It’s hosted by this meat-head douche bag that wears Ed Hardy shirts three sizes too small and gels his hair up like Pauly D and says, “dude” and “bro” all the fucking time. As I was watching Grave Encounters 2 I couldn’t help giggle and imagine the Ghost Bros team stumbling into this particular Canadian asylum and being trapped there forever and hopefully lobotomized (if they haven’t been already). Sick, I know.

 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.


HorrO said...

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Doug Brunell said...

The "Ghost Bros" as you call them are horrible. That show is an absolute travesty. I have only watched one entire episode, but when I channel surf by it I will stop for a minute or two if only to see if one of them dies.

Great film review, too!

Oh,and as an aside, "Nothing Men" is out in paperback now and selling nicely! E-mail me if you'd rather have a physical copy.