Sometimes you have to admire persistence. I really didn’t think that Grave Encounters merited a sequel but apparently it’s financial returns indicated otherwise. So today I found myself watching Grave Encounters 2 with a certain sense of déjà vu because like the first movie, it tries to do something different and only partially succeeds. Once again the writers (The Vicious Brothers) manage to jump the shark at the midway pint and the movie ceases to innovate and just ticks boxes. The only major difference this time round is we get a little more of everything, because it is after all a sequel. So there’s more jumps, more ghosts and more violence. Is there more entertainment? May be.
The movie starts with a series of faux YouTube reviews of the original Grave Encounters. This is a fun way to start proceedings because not all the vloggers give favourable opinions. Then we meet indie horror film maker Alex (Richard Harmon) and his respective crew, who is convinced that the movie is in fact true. The more he digs for clues, the more his theory is validated. It is this first half of the story that works the best. Alex receives anonymous tip-offs via text and email from Deathawaits6. He also tracks down the producer of the first film and via a hidden camera, uncovers a chilling secret. Although the cast is mainly comprised of a bunch of unpleasant characters, they do all ring true.
It takes thirty eight minutes before the action arrives at the asylum. Curiously enough as the spooky stuff starts my interest in the movie took a sharp dip. The gadgets, cameras and technological paraphernalia used by such reality shows are all present here and this does embellish the proceedings to a degree. A thermal imaging camera is used this time, introduced via a rather obvious and crass gag. There are also some further explorations of the building’s ability to change shape and alter its layout. Whilst running in panic, one character turns a corner into a corridor but their friends take the same turn only to find a brick wall.
However there reaches a point in the story, not unlike the original, where the writers take too many liberties with the audiences suspension of disbelief. Again the first person narrative give ways to material that feels much more like conventional third person cinema. The moment that happens the main selling point for the production is lost and mediocrity sets in. Grave Encounters 2 also ends with a rather more violent incident that seems a little out of place with what has previously transpired. It’s rather gloating and mean spirited. The final resolution of the plot is somewhat obvious and worryingly paves the way for a third instalment.
I found myself remind of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 when watching Grave Encounters 2. Both sequels attempt to do do something tangential to their predecessors, rather than rinse and repeat but both seem to get lost after initial bursts of creativity. Overall I would say that I enjoyed Grave Encounters 2, more than the first part, mainly because of its self referential and self deprecating first act. As I said at the beginning, persistence can be an endearing quality. Although I really am getting exasperated with the found footage sub-genre, one should acknowledge effort, even if it is misplaced. The Vicious Brothers have tried more so than other film makers to experiment and even managed to raise a wry smile. Their tongue must have been planted firmly in their cheek when one of the characters describes Hollywood as “the film Mecca of the world”.