Grave Encounters 2 Better the Second Time Around

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I watched the previous Vicious Bros film, Grave Encounters (2011) which was also written and directed by the two men. I enjoyed the film, apart from a few annoying moments and when I reviewed it, I was pretty fair in my assessment. It was a good film, but nothing to write home about. It was a great first effort.

Since I hadn’t turned cartwheels after seeing the first one, I somewhat hesitantly decided to watch Grave Encounters 2. It follows the first film in the “found footage” genre that is being done to death, but, the film was helmed by  John Poliquin and not the Vicious Bros. They wrote the second film was well, but decided to leave their involvement  to writing it and doing a humorous cameo.

This is director Poliquin’s first feature length directorial effort and he does a good job. The  overall pacing of the film is good, with the odd interlude of meandering action that causes it to lag in places. The main protagonists are an eclectic bunch of students, one of which wants to be the Sam Raimi. (In fact their film that they are making at the beginning of the movie really made me think of Raimi’s Evil Dead.)

The cast was full of “unknowns” or at least they were unknown to me, with the exception of the lead actor from the first film and the “smarmy” producer who was also in the first film.

The sophistication of the scares were better in this sequel and I can honestly hold my hand over my heart and say that it was a lot better than the first one. For a start, the screaming ninny in the first film, that I wanted to kill, was obviously absent in the sequel and none of the students felt the need to screech non-stop at the scary things that were happening.

My only real complaint was going to be about the horrible acting from the students in the little “film within a film” until I saw a real student film to review where the actors were so bad, that the “bad acting” in Grave Encounters actually looked quite good in comparison.

Grave Encounters 2 was a delightful find and it proved that the Vicious Brothers are better the second time around with a different director. Enjoyable fun and the script gives another dig at scary movies and the found footage genre.  A definite 3.5 out of 5 stars with a somewhat confusing plot that doesn’t really spoil the overall film.

An improvement on the first one.

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Grave Encounters (2011): Great Start…Grave Finish

Grave Encounters

Written and directed by  The Vicious BrothersGrave Encounters  is their maiden voyage as it were into the film world. Using the obligatory horror genre as their entrance, I am sure that the idea worked really well in script and storyboard form.

I really wanted to like this film. The beginning of the film looked great. Hell, the “trailer” for the ‘ghost hunter’ team played beautifully. I wanted to make that program.

The film opens as a mock-u-mentary, we hear from a television executive how Lance Preston sent in a demo reel for consideration as a new ‘reality’ program. The excec states that he was before his time and that this type of tv program hadn’t taken off yet.

Everything looked great until episode six. We are going to see episode six. He stresses that this is not a movie. It is seventy-six hours of un-edited footage from Lance’s last ever show.

We then meet the crew of Lance’s “professionals” and we see them setting up the shots for episode six. We meet cameraman TC (Merwin Mondesir), Techno Geek Matt (Juan Riedinger), pouty assistant Sasha (Ashleigh Gryzko), Psychic Houston (Mackenzie Gray) and presenter/expert Lance (Sean Rogerson).

They are all there to investigate the creepy abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. This place, according to local legend, has had scary stuff happen ever since it closed down. And shades of The House on Haunted Hill; the reason it was closed was a mad doctor was murdered by six of his patients.

The first thing we learn upon meeting these guys and gal are that they are new to this whole ‘ghost busting’ gig and that, so far at least, they haven’t seen any ghostly goings on. We also find out that Houston is about as psychic as my left big-toe. He is in fact just an actor.

*He also, through no fault of his own, provides for some of the ‘unintended” laughs. Every time someone said his name and the word problem together, I felt like I was watching an astronaut film –

Right up until everything goes completely Pete Tong I was with them. I liked how the film was progressing and was ready for the action to pick up.

Unfortunately when it did pick up, the players all lost their cool too quickly. It was like watching a high school theatre group do improv. Everyone wanted to panic and scream.

Incidentally, I wanted Sasha to die immediately. Nothing personal, but her scream was so irritating that the threat the ghosts posed seemed minimal compared to the ear damage her shrieking must have caused.

But before everything goes completely crazy (Did you see what I did there?) The group have had very little happen to them and they decide to call it a night. They are bored, tired and hungry. All this was good. I mean they had me right there and ready to ride the roller coaster of fear.

Like the celestial virgin, there I was all juiced up and ready to go, but my partner was suffering from a terminal case of brewer’s droop.

It is quite possible that this film was much scarier in the cinema where sound and darkness could play a big part in setting you up for the jump. It just felt like a lukewarm version of The Blair Witch Project.

To say I was disappointed, would be an understatement. Somebody must have liked the film, because on IMDb there is a Grave Encounters 2 set for release this year.

It was inevitable that the success of the Paranormal series, which owes it own beginnings to Blair Witch, would spawn imitations. The guerilla style of film-making seems to be on the rise and to be fair it has resulted in some great little films. Cloverfield to name but one.

But for the love of all that’s scary, get off the Blair Witch train. Okay?