[Our Toronto After Dark coverage continues with Aaron Von Lupton's review of Grave Encounters 2.]
Grave Encounters 2 (Canada-US)
Starring Richard Harmon, Reese Alexander and Stephanie Bennett
Directed by John Poliquin
Written by The Vicious Brothers
New director John Polinquin and original Grave Encounters writers the Vicious Brothers deserve some credit for taking their sequel in a whole new direction when they could have just done the easy thing and made another average found footage ghost movie. Unfortunately, as Grave Encounters 2 proves, randomly grabbing new ideas out of thin air isn’t exactly the best approach, either.
The sequel to 2011’s Grave Encounters, which followed a group of paranormal researchers setting up shop in a haunted house, takes a very meta approach, positing itself in “our” world where the original actually exists as a movie… or least that’s what everyone thinks until film student and horror aficionado Alex receives a mysterious comment on his online review of the movie, leading him down an obsessive path in which he discovers the footage in the film is in fact real.
Grave Encounters 2 takes an excruciatingly long time to get going, but eventually Alex convinces his friends to go with him to the location of the original film, and that’s when the supernatural CGI scares begin. This segment is actually the highlight of the entire movie, even though it’s just retreading old ground, with the scariest moments being flashback sequences from the original. That should tell you something. However, just when you think things are getting too predictable, the Vicious Brothers throw the entire movie on its head, reintroducing Lance Preston, star of the original, now a madman driven insane from years of captivity in the haunted building (yet still looking like a supermodel) and setting up an entire new plot that is almost more science fiction than supernatural horror.
Again, originality is a good thing, but not when it comes at the expense of credibility. Without giving away any details, Grave Encounters 2’s story is unintentionally hilarious and for something so over the top, takes itself way too seriously. It also isn’t particularly good at being meta: if Alex is such a fanboy, why does he lead his friends straight into a trap and follow all the horror clichés such as deciding to split up? Let’s hope this is our last encounter with this franchise. I’m afraid to see what they might come up with next.
Aaron Von Lupton