Maybe it was because I was doped up on post wisdom tooth extraction painkillers, but I quite enjoyed the first Grave Encounters when I watched it a few months back. It was the story of a ghost hunters reality show that ends up filming an episode in an asylum that check it out you guys, is way haunted! Also “Way Haunted” would be a good ass name for a ghost hunting show. Anyway, the first movie didn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking with the found footage genre, but it was creepy with a handful of solid scares and some well-done tension. It was a good watch.
I had no idea a sequel was being made until the day it was released but I was curious since the first one didn’t leave much room for a continuation of the story. But then when has that ever stopped anyone from making a sequel before.
Grave Encounters 2 takes the Human Centipede 2/Blair Witch 2 route by having the first movie actually exist within the reality of the sequel. We open with a bunch of Youtube reviewers talking about the first movie, and not always favourably, ending with our protagonist for this one. He didn’t like the movie but soon becomes obsessed with the idea that it’s not a work of fiction. He starts to make his own documentary, trying to prove that the first movie is actually a depiction of real events. This eventually leads him to take his friends with him to the asylum where that movie’s events took place. How much you want to bet that shit goes real bad for these people?
The first half-hour of this movie is incredibly meta, which is an interesting idea but I don’t think it works as well as it could. They talk a lot of shit about the first movie, as well as other found footage movies, and talk about how stale the whole horror genre is as a whole and eventually it becomes a little tiresome. Though I did appreciate Apollo 18 simply being referred to as “that stupid one in space”. Plus, if you’re going to talk that much shit about other scary movies, you better make good on it and produce the best horror movie ever, and they really didn’t pull that off.
It takes a while to get everyone to the asylum, however once they get there I have to say I respect how little time it takes before ghosts start fucking with them. There’s no room for “I saw something I swear”, it’s just “Oh fuck! Ghosts! Undeniable ghosts!” right away. The problem though is that the sequel doesn’t have any new tricks up its sleeve. Everything this movie does, the first one already did, so the surprise is gone. You can bet that whenever they find a ghost, it will open their mouth real wide and scream at them, and then they’ll take off. Every single time. It’s the one skill these ghosts have and it’s a creepy one, but after the sixth time you want to ask them if they got any other parlour tricks. Make your head spin or something ghost, really impress me!
Also the movie tends to run in circles. There is one plot twist that I won’t spoil even though the trailer does, but for a sequel we don’t get much in terms of further back-story on the asylum or its inhabitants. For the most part we’re just watching the first movie play out again, only less exciting. I can’t even say the effects are better because they are the same effects! Even the acting is about the same level of quality, which is to say, eh.
Grave Encounters 2 is not a bad movie, but a disappointing one. It recycles far too much from the first movie, adds very little to the overall story, and deploys the same scare tactics that we have already seen. Am I going to lie and say that tall lanky ghost that’s in the banner image didn’t creepy the shit out of me? No, fuck that guy. There is also one neat trick with an elevator that 1408 already did but still worked well here. But too much of the time I just wasn’t invested. I would say simply watch the first movie again, it’s almost the same thing as watching the sequel.