Review

Review

FEARNET Movie Review: 'Grave Encounters 2'

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I caught the first Grave Encounters at the end of a mini-marathon of rather terrible indie horror films, so once I realized I liked the movie, I was rather enthusiastic about it. Written and directed by Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz (aka The Vicious Brothers), Grave Encounters didn't re-invent any wheels, but it did prove to me (and several other people) that "found footage" horror could continue to hold some mystique outside of The Blair Witch Project, [REC], and Paranormal Activity. The combination of found footage indie horror mixed with one of those innumerable "ghost hunter" series simply worked for me, and I admired the filmmakers for keeping things simple, straightforward, and kinda spooky.

 
The sequel, on the other hand, is a rushed, dull, uneventful, grating, tiresome, and ultimately infuriating piece of self-congratulatory nonsense that suffers from the same problems as Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and (god help us) Human Centipede 2: The Full Sequence -- sequels that do not continue a story, but act as love letters / advertisements to their predecessors. In other words, Grave Encounters 2 is mostly "about" the first Grave Encounters: how that film influences a quartet of outrageously obnoxious young people to dig into the history of the "haunted" asylum we enjoyed so much in the first in Part 1. In theory, fine, that could work, but those Vicious Brothers (along with a new director, John Poilquin) are clearly trying to fill a minimum of 90 minutes with long and pointless party scenes, endless dialogue scenes that are either redundant or irritating, a few "fact-finding" diversions that add very little, and a plot structure that simply makes no sense. And I'll say it again: this movie has (at least) two of the most obnoxious characters you'll ever be asked to spend time with. 
 
Having said all that, there is some pretty cool stuff near the end. It's simply unfortunate that the first half of the film moves at a mercilessly slow pace, and at some moments it feels like stuff is being tossed in at random. Our party-lovin' paranormal investigators are also aspiring filmmakers, which means we get a handful of very obvious horror-geek in-jokes that the movie simply does not need. It's not enough that Grave Encounters 2 is a horror movie about a horror movie, but the characters are also required to make horror movies and know that they're making a horror documentary. Basically, Grave Encounters 2 is so far up its own ass it almost disappears. Respect to the filmmakers for trying their best to not simply Xerox the first film, sincerely, but Grave Encounters 2 has more filler than a hot dog.
 
The first 45 minutes is pretty much a bust on all fronts, but then we kick into a 15-minute version of a "typical" sequel in which the haunted edifice is revisited (which is actually a pretty fun 15 minutes), and then ... the wheels come off. A few clever misdirections lead us to a third act that you simply won't believe. I won't spoil anything, but suffice to say that a character from the first film pops back up to explain some new metaphysical nonsense, and it all becomes too much to deal with. It's legitimately cool that Grave Encounters 2 is not simply a carbon-copy retread, but after 92 minutes of this movie's non-stop wheel-spinning, you'll be ready for something straight, simple, and conventionally creepy. I'd recommend the first Grave Encounters.
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