Two movies into the new year and I already have a movie on the worst of the year list. I’ve said it before, “found footage” films are a way for lazy filmmakers to get their product out there and Grave Encounters 2 is a prime example. It’s also a classic case of capitalizing on a successful movie by rushing out a cheap sequel. Grave Encounters was not great and had its’ fair share of flaws. Yet it was entertaining enough and has generated a small following through good reviews on YouTube and horror-related podcasts.
The movie begins by bringing the first movie into the real world. We see clips of various YouTube reviewers discussing the movie, some praising it while others calling it junk. Then we are introduced to an aspiring filmmaker Alex Wright, played by the dreary Richard Harmon. Alex is among a small group of people who believe that the events in the first movie are real. While working on a film project and making his own low-rent torture porn flick, he continues to research the psychiatric hospital from the first film and the people who starred in it. He discovers that they’ve never done anything else and many have been reported as missing or dead. His friends don’t believe him even when he begins to receive cryptic messages from someone who identifies themself only as “Death Awaits”. He traces the original film producer to a video shoot in Hollywood and hops a plane in search of the truth. This will be his new film as we follow him on his journey.
Ben Wilkinson returns from the first film as producer Jerry Hartfield. After he initially refuses to talk to Alex, he is later caught on hidden camera acknowledging that the events are real. They found the cameras of the Grave Encounters crew, added some special effects and decided to make some money. It turns out Jerry is a bottom feeding Hollywood guy but he gives Alex just what he wants. After showing the footage to his friends, who now partially believe him, it’s time for a road trip. Once they arrive at the hospital, they are met with a very aggressive security guard. Initially turned away, they return at night acting like it was a fun evening of breaking in somewhere they shouldn’t be. Little do they know it’s the beginning of the end for all of them…almost. Along the way, we have the return of Sean Rogerson as himself. Turns out Lance Preston, his name in the first movie, was just a stage name. He’s been trapped in the hospital for nine years but looks pretty good all things considered. Of course, he’s given a pair of scissors so he can cut his hair and look presentable. Really? Apparently, they only had the wig rented for an hour and had to get it back to the prop department.
The acting is the usual dreck we find all too often in low budget horror movies. Leanne Lapp (Snowmageddon) plays Jennifer, the girl in love with Alex, who ends up regretting ever meeting him. Dylan Playfair is the irritating friend Trevor who everyone is glad to see meet his demise. There are a few others but you have the idea. The biggest jump scares are actually clips from the first movie thrown in randomly as Alex is watching the original. What we see in the hospital is more of the same but done far less effectively. And the ending? The portal that sucks in Sean, Alex’s deal with the demons and Jerry…it really makes no sense. Unfortunately, it leaves open a possibility for a third film. Consider me done on this franchise.
Classic movies have at least a charm about them that is entertaining. We find talented actors that help elevate the bad scripts and poor special effects. But they are movies made by real filmmakers in real studios with a legitimate budget. Not somebody holding a camera claiming to be a director. Unfortunately, far too many horror movies are made today on a shoestring budget with “actors” who couldn’t make it at most local dinner theaters. Making a movie and getting it released has become far too easy and most of what we are seeing out on DVD is forgotten as soon as any buzz that is generated wears off. Cleaning out my DVR and rental stack is almost done. I’m anxiously awaiting some better films from Alfred Hitchcock. Well, there’s also Godzilla but even those, on their worst day, are a million times better than Grave Encounters 2. Not recommended. Take a nap instead, your mind will appreciate it.