Grave Encounters 2
grave encounters 2 | grave encounters | sequel | john poliquin | the vicious brothers | stuart ortiz | colin minihan | richard harmon | dylan playfair | leanne lapp | ghost | ghosts | haunted | haunted house | found footage | canada | shawn c. phillips | jennica fulton
Film: Grave Encounters 2
Director: John Poliquin
Writer: The Vicious Brothers (Stuart Ortiz and Colin Minihan)
Starring: Richard Harmon, Dylan Playfair and Leanne Lapp
To follow up watching the first movie, Jaime and I decided to go ahead and watch this sequel that same night since we had the time. I read the synopsis for this movie and thought it had an interesting idea where they were going to be taking it next.
Synopsis: a film student who is obsessed with the movie Grave Encounters sets out with his friends to visit the psychiatric hospital depicted in the original film.
We start this getting a bunch of reviews of Grave Encounters. This includes CoolDuder (Shawn C. Phillips) among others. The reviews we get are mixed with the last one being from Alex Wright (Richard Harmon) who gives it a bad review.
It then shifts over to a Halloween party where Trevor Thompson (Dylan Playfair) is filming with his phone. We get the normal antics here until he comes up to Jennifer Parker (Leanne Lapp). She is asking about Alex and Trevor tells her that he isn’t coming. Trevor decides to bust in on him and changes his mine about going to the party because of Jennifer. It is then we get insight into Alex. He wants to be a director of horror films, but he’s pretentious. He does have a point with his assessment at the time of the genre.
Trevor rudely wakes up Alex the following morning and they recap what happened the night before. Alex then realizes he has gotten a message from a YouTube account called ‘Death Awaits’. It sends him more information to look deeper into what happened in Grave Encounters. This includes the latitude and longitude of where the real hospital is located, the phone number to Sean Rogerson which leads them to meet his mother and even a call sheet that allows him to get to Jerry Hartfield (Ben Wilkinson).
Their path goes to the hospital where this all happened to try to get to the bottom of the truth of the first movie. Was it real or is just an elaborate hoax to make a sequel?
Now I wanted to go lighter on the recap as I just wanted to give the basic background that leads them to the where everything happens. That brings me to the aspect that this goes meta and I don’t hate it. It feels like the next logical step. The first movie was letting us peak behind the camera of making a reality ghost hunting show. This one then makes us realize that the first movie was just that, but it could be real. I can dig that. We also have Jerry Hartfield back as well as Sean Rogerson who we know was portraying Lance Preston and that he is a real character now.
There’s also this aspect of incorporating technology here as well. One of the parts that worked for me with the remake of House on Haunted Hill was that it used technology to select the party guests. We get that here with ‘Death Awaits’ messaging Alex. They set up a time for a meeting inside of the hospital and when we see what is going on here, it is good. I also like the introduction to Alex using a YouTube review and Trevor being that guy at the party recording everything. It just feels like things I tried to do in college during this Millennial age where technology was used much more.
Being that this is a sequel, it does well by incorporating elements from the previous film while also ramping up the scares. I do think the movie gets a bit a cheap that early on it will just cut to the movie Alex is making or showing scares from the original Grave Encounters. Once they get to the hospital and they’re trapped, it does ramp it up there and I liked it. There’s one scare that involves them ‘getting out’ and how they tie it back in is so disheartening.
This struggles more with how to end than the previous one though if I’m going to be honest. I like what they’re doing with the tie-ins and I don’t even mind that they had a better plan here in my eyes. The problem though is that late in the third act, I didn’t really care where they were necessarily going with it. Plus, the CGI is worse in this one, especially with something they do at the end of the movie.
Since I’ve already transitioned over, I should just go over the effects in general. I know I saw this case at Family Video when I was working there. The cover is what turned me off to seeing either. What I will say is that the look of the ghosts is creepy. There’s a little girl one and another from the cover that freaked me out. They do things with CGI that was freaky. The problem though is we get cameras floating that didn’t look good and a door in the middle as well as what happens to it. In ramping things up, they relied more on computers and I wasn’t a fan. The found footage angle though does work and much like the first one, it makes sense why everything is being filmed and why the cameras need to be used.
That just leaves me with the acting then. I thought Harmon was a solid lead for the most part. He just isn’t as strong as Rogerson was in the first movie and he comes off as whiny and emo. That turned me off, but he did get a reaction so there is that. I didn’t like Rogerson in this movie. The archive footage is fine, but he does have a cameo here and I feel his performance started off well and becomes uneven. Playfair worked for me as that party guy and when faced with his own mortality, I liked his breakdown. Howie Lai who plays Jared Lee, a cinematographer who comes along was good. I also really liked Lapp in her role. The rest of the cast worked for what was needed in my opinion.
In conclusion, this movie does do some good things as a sequel. I like how it intertwines with the original film while also ramping up the scares here. It has an interesting use of technology in my opinion. Harmon isn’t as strong as the lead, but the acting is on par aside from that I would say. It does feel natural in this found footage movie. In ramping up the scares, they did with the CGI and it doesn’t work as well. It also loses its way more in the final act and I found myself bored if I’m honest. The use of ambient sound is good with ramping up tension yet again. I don’t feel this is as strong, but still solid. My rating here would be just above average overall.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10