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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Another night alone and I am left with my ghastly and terrifying movie preferences to fill the hours. I happened upon a film called Grave Encounter 2, a new release from Redbox. I wanted John Dies At The End but the few times that I’ve gone to Redbox they tend to list films on their poster as available, but then upon searching and searching the electronic kiosk, don’t even appear. It’s frustrating and encourages me to visit my local store (Mokena Video), despite it being a bit further drive. Anyways, directed by John Poliquin and written by The Vicious Brothers (I know, what a name!) we have a hellacious handheld filmed, haunted house horror film.
The original Grave Encounters (’11) follows a TV crew filiming a reality TV show about a haunted houses, spending the night in one. The crew gets trapped and their fates turn sour. Both films are filmed on a handheld camera and appear as authentic real life, referencing real life techniques and ideas about filming. The sequel follows some stupid teen who is interested in the original movie filmed by the TV show. He is intrigued with films and believes the original film was brilliant. He tries to get hold of the original director and actors but finds that they are unable to be located and shrouded in mystery. A few scenes later, he goes to meet a mysterious texter at the original haunted house and then the actual haunted house story begins. Some reused antics occur and I quickly lose interest around the 45 minute mark. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still watching because I like haunted houses but this aint no 28 Days Later.
Well, I can’t help but compare this with the previous film. The only reason I rented this was because the original grabbed my attention. It wasn’t brilliant but I would have given the director a firm handshake and said “Swell job, chap!” A horror film needs a set up and thats the immediate fault with the sequel. You can’t just throw the audience into a insane asylum with ghosts and distant voices, you must set up the story to describe why stupid teens are getting slaughtered by ghosts. This film has 36 minutes, of 95, of setting up the scene until we finally get to the scary parts. Prior to the entrance, its just filled with drama and immature smoking, sex, drinking jokes.
I really don’t mind the handheld camera view. I think the heart of the dislike stems from the inability to get engrossed in the film. Watching films requires complete attention. You can’t appreciate, or criticize, a film unless you sit through it. Often times there is a critical point where one scene makes or breaks a film (The Orphanage anyone?). I think the finest storytelling, as told through a handheld is REC. It utilizes the type of camera work to its advantage by adding suspense, rather than a novelty. Also, movies should never reference other movies. There were references to Craven and Carpenter and I think its unnecessary. We know all the classics, we know what films were released in the past; I don’t care and breaks my suspension of disbelief. Leave it out for the special features and interviews.
About 70 minutes into the film the main character from the initial film (Sean Rogerson) which got me more interested. He was wonderful in the first, and he brought nothing but charm and goodness to a pretty much meaningless film. The ending was awful. If Rogerson was kept as the lone survivor, rather than being banished with some poor CGI, it could have saved the film but alas, that is not the case. They even made some comments about how films today use pitiful CGI. Ironic.
The characters were fine, in the sense that they could be worse but were completely unimpressive. The police officer was farfetched. In general, students and teens are excused from acting stupid and making immature and awful decisions but if you bring in a person of authority, such as the police officer as they did, they should act with the authority. This cop was unintelligent and a disgrace to all authority figures. In addition, the main character (Roger Harmon) was too mean and too much of a dick to his female significant other. He was never really punished for being awful. Anyways…
I cannot recommend this film to anyone. The original held some genuine scenes and had a good cast who were really into the film but this falls short. 2/5 for me and 5/10 for imdb.