The first Grave Encounters was one of my favorite random finds from last year. It was an atmospheric horror movie that dealt with more psychological and unexplainable terror than just straight up scares. Unfortunately, the end of the movie turned around from that completely and made the entire thing about spooky ghosts with creepy faces. I was really hoping that Grave Encounters 2 would learn something from the original film. Unfortunately, what it learned is that it is way easier to CGI up some faces than it is to create something original.
The movie takes place in a meta-plot world where the movie of Grave Encounters exists and is easily available. Our main character is a Youtube film critic and aspiring horror movie director that is currently going to film school. After giving Grave Encounters a terrible score on his online blog, he is contacted by someone named “Death Awaits” that feeds him information that leads him to believe that everything filmed was real. I’m not sure if they did that to just him or everyone that panned the movie or what but I guess he’s the only one that bites. He then Googles up some information about how everyone in the movie is missing or dead. This, of course, prompts him to go back to the site of the original movie and find out for himself.
The movie is essentially a rehash of the first but replaced all the amazing atmospheric stuff with camera phone video of college kids partying and working on a conspiracy theory. It uses jump scares before they manage to get to the place by splicing in footage from the original movie. The rooms that they go to at the asylum are the same as those in the first and most are even the same camera angles. The whole thing is a slow lead up to a less satisfying version of the original. The focus is much more on the ghosts and how super creepy it is when they do that thing where the mouths get all long and the eyes go black that horror movies have fallen in love with over the years.
I usually like movies that do a meta-critical look at the material that they are in. Things like Scream and Cabin in the Woods both have interesting ways of playing with the tropes and commenting on them. This movie just seems to wallow in the crap that it spews. The main character drunkenly claims “I’m a fucking visionary!” and says that he will make a movie that relies on practical effects and is original. The movie then copies the first movie in every way possible and leans exceedingly heavily on CGI. It’s almost like the movie is just saying “Trying to make something unique and good is a stupid dream that only students have and real directors turn out the easiest product they can.”
I am really sad that I’m giving this a 2.5 out of 5 since the first one was so good. It certainly had some flaws and clichés thrown in but it at least tried. Grave Encounters 2 is the path of least resistance for a horror film to go.
Favorite thing in the movie: The appearance of horror movie Tarzan that has a magical map
Least favorite thing: An extended chase scene by a big, lanky ghost like I’m in Christopher Nolan’s Scooby Doo