Wednesday, 23 October 2013

They Made Me Do It...Again! #5 : Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

Grave Encounters 2 is a 2012 mockumentary horror film. Directed by John Poliquin and starring Richard Harman (Bates Motel), Dylan Playfair and Leanne Lapp. The film was written by the Vicious Brothers, who directed the first film.

The film picks up straight away from the first film in extremely meta fashion by featuring Internet nerds reviewing the movie on you tube. One of these nerds is amateur horror film maker Alex (Harman) who starts to become obsessed with the events of the first film. Being encouraged by a contact named “death awaits” Alex starts to believe that the footage was all legitimate and the cast of the first film perished in the Collingwood mental asylum. He is able to convince his fellow students to join him in making a documentary to get to the bottom of what happened to the cast of Grave encounters but discovers that the supernatural powers of the Collingwood asylum are far greater than even portrayed in the original film.

Grave Encounters 2 is that most bold and ambitious of sequels in that it seeks to simultaneously expand on the mythology of the original whilst also sending up it’s predecessor. That’s not to say that the first film didn’t have the wink and the nudge, the whole concept of the film was to lampoon ludicrous ghost hunting TV shows whilst slowly introducing some scares of it’s own, which was deftly accomplished.  Right from the get-go the film establishes that the emphasis will be on MOCKumentary with the characters cracking wise about other horror films and clichéd tropes of the genre. However, after a visit to the asylum and a quick retread of the same events as the first film, the story starts to focus on it’s most fascinating element….the sentient nature of the asylum itself. This was hinted at in the first film with doors shifting, corridors appearing from nowhere and the unusual passage of time but this entry really emphasises the concept of the hospital being a parallel dimension.

This signifies a strange (but enjoyable) genre shift from post modern horror comedy to a more sci-fi/fantasy element and although it all became rather overblown and ridiculous at times there was always a character with a witty riposte to remind us not to take the film too seriously. You could say one of the main strengths of the film is its genre-literacy and the Vicious Brothers certainly know when to play it scary, funny or fantastical and this keeps things consistently fresh and entertaining were it would otherwise seem too smug and referential. My only criticism of the film would be a fairly slow first act and what I felt was some way too hammy acting from the returning Lance Preston character channelling some sort of insane hobo let loose in the madhouse

Perhaps this entry is only for fans of the first film (which I definitely was) as it leans very heavily on the tone set and goes for gags over scares more often than the original movie. Fans of meta-horror will relish the nods and winks to so many horror and sci fi clichés but may find that the final act tends to veer into unchecked cliché itself. I get the strange urge to see Grave Encounters turned into a trilogy but perhaps after this entry there really isn’t anywhere left to go but I have to highly recommend both films as a double bill, found footage rarely gets this clever.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of Grave Encounters 2? Did you see the first film?


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