Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grave Encounters 2

Being as I was a pretty big fan of the first Grave Encounters, it sort of came out of nowhere and really surprised me, of course when a sequel was announced, it piqued my interest. The first film succeeded in my mind mostly because it never harbored any delusions that it was any more than what it was, a pseudo-spoof of all the "paranormal investigation" shows that seem to be so popular these days, only instead of a bunch of footage of nothing being passed off as "evidence", the group in Grave Encounters got more than they bargained for when they discovered that the abandoned mental hospital they were filming at was not only haunted, but the spirits that inhabited the place were plenty pissed off. But that was basically all there was to it, not a lot of backstory, just a straightforward affair with some pretty decent effects and a couple of fairly creepy moments. To my surprise, the sequel actually turned out to be a bit more ambitious than it's predecessor, but I'll get to that. First, this is the part where I usually do a short synopsis...

Grave Encounters 2 picks up after the first film has been released on dvd, and follows an independent horror film maker who has become obsessed with finding out he truth behind the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital after he begins receiving mysterious emails pointing to the happenings of Grave Encounters being much more than just a movie. His obsession turns into a desire to film a documentary about the movie, exposing the lies behind the incident, and culminating with he and his friends taking their equipment to Collingwood to conduct their own paranormal investigation.

That's vague, but with good reason. Grave Encounters 2 does basically everything I want from a sequel, it shows awareness of what's come before, takes it all into consideration, and builds upon it. It's not absolutely necessary to have seen the first film to understand what's going on, but there are things that happen in 2 that won't have the same impact for anyone who hasn't seen the original. I'll admit in the beginning to being a bit worried, as it begins somewhat slowly, and definitely gives off a "Blair Witch 2" vibe, but thankfully it gets away from that and manages to actually succeed in every way that Blair Witch 2 failed. Breaking the fourth wall (or is it third?), having the characters in a sequel actually being aware of the prior film is one of those things that rarely done, and done well even less. It worked for me in GE2 though, because the narrative is not only aware of what came before, but builds on to it, even answering questions raised in the first film.

Of course all of that is owed to the fact that just as with the first, Grave Encounters 2 is written and directed by The Vicious Brothers, whose work I was completely unfamiliar with the first time I sat down to watch Grave Encounters. They've made me a believer though, GE2 is a more than worthy follow-up, and has cemented them as "non-one hit wonders" in my book. I'll definitely be on keeping my eyes open for their next project. Grave Encounters 2 comes highly recommended for fans of the original, and I strongly urge anyone who is a fan of shows like Ghost Hunters on SyFy to give both of these films a watch. If you're a "found footage" hater, there's nothing really to see here, although I will give the GE films credit as we get to actually see everything, but still even with that I doubt it's going to change any minds.

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