Grave Encounters 2, 2012.
Directed by John Poliquin.
Starring Richard Harman, Leanne Lapp, Sean Rogerson, Dylan Playfair, Stephanie Bennet and Howie Lai.
Tortured by the ghosts of the demonized insane asylum that killed the crew of Grave Encounters, a group of film students fight to escape death as their own paranormal investigation goes terribly wrong.
Ever since the Paranormal Activity series reinvigorated the found footage genre, there’s barely a week goes by without some micro-budget, micro-quality direct-to-video release looking to cash on its success. Typically, these amateurish efforts are marketed towards fans of Paranormal Activity with covers and / or titles designed to evoke the low-budget series (see Parnormal Entity, Paranormal Incident, Supernatural Activity et al). However, if you sift through enough trash, occasionally you’re going to stumble upon something worthwhile, and that proved to be the case with The Vicious’ Brothers’ 2011 found footage chiller Grave Encounters.
An internet sensation (having had over 25 million trailer views on YouTube), Grave Encounters followed the crew of a paranormal investigation show as they looked for evidence of the supernatural in an abandoned lunatic asylum, and delivered a surprisingly solid spin on the tired old formula. Now The Vicious Brothers have penned a follow-up, with director John Poliquin taking on directing duties for a sequel that adopts the same kind of meta-approach as Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 in an effort to serve up something more than a straight-forward retread of the original.
In the world of Grave Encounters 2, the original movie has proven to be a smash hit, capturing the attention horror movie fans and critics alike – in particularly, film student Alex Wright (Richard Harmon); after reviewing the film on his blog Alex’s Movie Madness, he starts receiving mysterious messages from a user called ‘DeathAwaits6’, leading him to suspect that the events of Grave Encounters were real. Alex’s suspicions are confirmed when he meets with the producer of Grave Encounters, and he convinces his buddies to abandon their torture porn student project in order to create a documentary exposing the truth about the film and the haunted lunatic asylum. Unfortunately for the budding filmmakers, this means location shooting at the asylum, where they soon find themselves at the mercy of the demonic spirits within.
Much of the first half of Grave Encounters 2 revolves around Alex, his horror movie musings, and his efforts to shoot his student film, which provides some fairly interesting commentary about the state of the horror genre. I quite enjoyed this part of the film, but if it’s scares you’re looking for, then you do face a wait until the young film crew arrives at the asylum. From here, Poliquin packs in a good twenty minutes of terror before things start to unravel plot-wise with the introduction of a familiar face from the first movie and the film never really manages to recover.
While Grave Encounters 2 should be commended for trying something a little different, ultimately it doesn’t quite manage to pull it off and like Blair Witch 2, it’s not a patch on its predecessor. Still, on the other hand it’s not an absolute stinker either, and I’d take it over Book of Shadows any day of the week.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★
Gary Collinson is a writer and lecturer from the North East of England. He is the editor-in-chief of FlickeringMyth.com and the author of Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen.