Thursday, October 3, 2013

Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

It's standard operating procedure for a found footage film to pretend to be real, but Grave Encounters 2 goes meta (much like The Human Centipede 2, as loath as I am to bring up that title). The movie opens with a montage of vloggers describing their reaction to Grave Encounters, finishing with an arrogant, egotistical film student who thinks he's going to usher in the next wave of horror. Guess who our main character is? And Grave Encounters 2 turns out to be the documentary he films about Grave Encounters, in which he goes on a search to prove that the first movie was real, after receiving some cryptic pieces of evidence from an anonymous source online.

Here's one lingering question that breaks suspension of disbelief - no matter how badly you want to prove it, if your suspicions tell you that a movie in which everyone visiting a haunted building was killed horrifically after days of psychological torture and an utter inability to escape that building is really real, then why in god's name would you go visit that building in the middle of the night, and do the exact same thing the last (lost) crew did, in order to prove it? Are you really that stupid? What good is your proof gonna do you if you end up just as dead as the last daring adventurers?

Yeah, so there's lots to roll your eyes about in this sequel. First of which is the early montage of our main characters partying, getting drunk and taking drugs. I know, it's one of those things that lends itself to the found footage genre, but seriously, what scenes could be any less interesting? And anyway, it doesn't help to make our characters more sympathetic. (I don't know about you, but I don't think vomiting into a toilet bowl makes somebody "cool" and "relatable"). And if your goal in a horror film is to make us loathe the characters we're going to eventually watch die, so we can sit back and say, "haha, you jackass, you totally deserved that," then I don't really think you're doing horror right.

I'm sorry, but it's just really hard to ignore when your main character is an aspiring director, who goes on about being original, then resorts to making films that rely heavily on cliche. The first Grave Encounters was an excitingly original take on an all-too-familiar premise. The sequel falls rather short of its forebear's legacy. It takes a long time to get to the asylum (that we all know it's headed for), and before getting there, it uses a cheap trick by which all of the best scares from the first movie are recycled by being cut into the footage without warning, being explained away as the other characters reviewing the first movie. But the result is that those scares, taken out of context of the original movie, lose all their atmosphere and are rendered as cheap jump scares.

As for the sequel's own scares, apart from one really cool monster sequence, they're much less effective this time around. Perhaps partly due to the fact that we have a better idea of what to expect, but also due to the way they're filmed. One thing that this movie has going for it is that it builds upon the spacetime anomalies that occur inside the haunted building, which was my favorite aspect of the original. But, unfortunately, even this angle is squandered as the movie begins to veer too far into fantasy, at the cost of its horror atmosphere. There's a really ridiculous floating camera gimmick that's in use toward the end of the film, that ultimately kills the found footage feeling of the film. Which is fascinating, in a way, because when the perspective begins to shift away from the first person POV, you can almost instantly feel yourself being less scared, because you don't feel in the middle of the action so much anymore. But, of course, for the film, doing that doesn't effectively accomplish its objective.

What we're left with, I think, is a disjointed sequel that has a lot of ideas - not half of them half bad - but that ultimately fails to live up to its own boasts, much less the expectations created by the outstanding film it follows.

No comments:

Post a Comment