grave encounters 2Tribeca Films

“He opened a gateway, you know?  Friedkin did.  He took the real world and the spirit world and he mashed them together.”

A year after a film crew spent a fatal night there, a new team is entering the halls of Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital in search of the truth. What they discover will make believers out of all of them.  That is, any who live to tell the tale.

As found footage movies go, I did find the original Grave Encounters to be one of the better examples of the much-exploited horror subgenre.  So, when I heard of the sequel being made, I did anticipate its release onto DVD so I could get around to watching to see how well it compared to the first movie.  So, does Grave Encounters 2 hold up its own the second time around?  For the most part, yes.

The story this time centers on a film school student who becomes obsessed with finding out if the movie Grave Encounters was real or not.  To that end, he tracks down themoth3er of one of the actors, and the producer who released the first film.  Finally, at the invitation of someone called DeathAwaits666 (guessing that’s not their real name, there), he and a few of his film school cohorts head out to the old Asylum to discover the truth.

Of course, the beginning of the film reminds one of the second Blair Witch movie, with video reviewers giving their two cents on the original movie.  From there, Grave Encounters 2 builds upon the original, and actually delivers a movie that is just as intriguing, if not better than the original.  Much unlike the second Blair Witch movie.

For the first two thirds of the film, you witness a somewhat jaded film student at first blowing off the first Grave Encounters movie as trite and derivative cheap horror.  Then, he gets a bit more obsessed with finding out whether or not the movie was actually true, as the actors featured on there weren’t really heard from again, at least haven’t worked in other films since then.  So he sets off to check out the veracity of everything, tracking down the mother of one of the actors, and finally the producer of the flick itself, everyone telling him to let it go, it’s just a movie.  Obviously, he doesn’t buy any of it, and talks his friends into heading out to the Asylum where everything was filmed.  Then the wackiness truly ensues.

What Grave Encounters 2 gets right is building a very thick and palpable sense of dread and uncomfortable atmosphere, managing to set a nice dark tone.  Despite starting off with film footage of stupid college kids at a Halloween party (gah), the characters are actually built upon decently, giving a bit of depth on most of them (save for that hop-headed idiot that every movie seems to need to have nowadays…where’s Jason when you need him, eh?) so there’s a little bit of caring when the bad stuff really starts to happen.  I was rather amused that the lead character wanted to do something to revolutionize the horror movie genre, and then we see footage of him making the same-old cliché-ridden horror movie as his student film.  Don’t want to read too much into this, but…sly commentary, mayhaps?  Anyhoo, it’s when they arrive at the asylum when things settles back into the weird stuff that made the first one pretty good.  It’s not a complete rehash of the first and all, fortunately, the movie does do some different things with some of the same effects and concepts of the first.  However, around the final third of the movie…well, not going to spoil things, but let’s just say it was a decent enough twist, but it did slow things down considerably as far as pacing went.

Overall, I found Grave Encounters 2 to be just as entertaining as the first Grave Encounters.  The fact that they decided to not go the rehash route that certain other found footage sequels have been doing as of late (*cough*) gets some points right there.  It also helps that the script was pretty strong, as were the actors and effects.  I don’t know if it’s been released on DVD yet; I watched it on Net Flix streaming, before I could find it for rent at the video store.  Regardless, I would urge you guys to watch this as well as the first movie for a nice little party, there.