The Vicious brother’s Grave Encounters stands out as quite easily one of the most entertaining found footage pictures of recent years, due in the most part to its more graphic approach to the genre. Most found footage flicks are content with showing the viewer as little as possible, sometimes because the filmmaker responsible understands the power of imagination, but usually because the budget will stretch no further than a white sheet with two eye holes cut out. Grave Encounters, the story of a group of TV ghost hunters facing a very real, very deadly haunting, took a different route, once it got going after an initially slow start, it showed EVERYTHING up close and personal. While that made for a less skin crawlingly frightening movie than some, it was a whole lot of goofy, ghost train-esque fun.
Grave Encounters 2 follows a group of film students who, having watched the supposedly faked footage from the first movie online and suspecting it to be genuine, set out to explore the same abandoned psychiatric hospital, in an effort to discover the true fate of the Grave Encounters team.
Grave Encounters 2 is not a bad film, rather it is one that suffers hugely from the law of diminishing returns. It follows many of that first film’s beats exactly, doing much everything the original film did, only half as well. The cast of characters don’t help matters one bit. While the characters in the first movie were liars and fakes, they at least had some personality and were fun to watch. Grave Encounters 2 is instead populated by the sort of unbearably smug fratboy irritants that made V/H/S such a chore at times, there’s not one character in the entire movie who’s fate interested me. In the case that a movie has such detestable characters at its centre, one can only hope that they are at least killed of in an inspired and unpleasant fashion. Unfortunately, this does not happen, rather Grave Encounters 2 continues to repeat beats and even scenes present and used more effectively in the first movie, leaving little room for shocks or surprises.
It’s a real shame, as the one time the Vicious brothers do divert from the tried and tested path they trod previously, it results in the movie’s finest moment, a delightfully evil, gut punch twist that truly pulls the rug out from under the viewer’s feet. These inspired moments are few and far between unfortunately, the Vicious brothers seemingly content to rake over old ground until the yawningly predictable climax. As much as I liked the first Grave encounters movie, it did steal quite liberally from a lot of other, better movies, which I forgave as it did so with such fun and energy that I was swept along with it. In the case of this sequel, the fact that it is content to cannibalize it’s own predecessor for ideas when that film was highly derivative in the first place, makes me think that the Vicious brothers are seriously lacking in inspiration.
As I said above, Grave encounters 2 is not dreadful, it has some decent jump scares and a smattering of tension, it is just near identical to the first movie, only much less effective. It’s worth a watch for those who enjoyed the original, but just don’t expect anything you didn’t see last time around and a whole bunch of times before that.
Grave Encounters creeps onto DVD 4th February 2012.
Writer: The Vicious Brothers
Stars: Richard Harmon, Shawn C. Phillips, Jennica Fulton
Runtime: 95 min
Country: Canada, USA