Monday, August 18, 2014

Grave Encounters 2 (2012) Review:

Some particular acts are just hard to follow - even if the original wasn't the best to begin with. Grave Encounters (2011) was an independent horror film that gained traction after having an interesting premise which was having a setting in an abandoned asylum. It did have a number of issues like hardly likable characters and continuity errors but on an entertainment level, it did have quite a bit of smaller thrills. For one, its production design looked great and the mythology behind the asylum had a creepy factor that made it hard to resist. Surprisingly, it warranted this sequel which has a couple of areas that felt like it could've went somewhere. However, the entirety of the story is much less believable.

Doesn't Alex Wright looks like such
an interesting character?
One key aspect that this sequel does maintain is continuity with the original. Thankfully, the script doesn't rehash everything but it's not enough either. Now, viewers are introduced to a different group of filmmakers. What's the age range of these filmmakers - cliche #1, teenagers. Naive, unlikable and annoying teenagers. The "leader", if you want to call him that, Alex Wright (Richard Harmon) is a vlogger who reviewed the original Grave Encounters (2011) film and began doing research on it. Soon he learns that the actual footage might be real and  decides that he should go to the same asylum to confirm his hunch. This particular plot line is certainly no longer original, but what makes it even less effective is the build up to that particular plot point.

The first third of the film spends its time getting its audience familiar with the characters before even getting to the asylum. And by familiar, I mean understanding that none of these individuals are likable, have any type of development and act in some of the most despicable ways. The rest of the cast that joins Alex Wright are by no means more interesting than one another. There's one character named Trevor Thompson (Dylan Playfair) who is by far the most obnoxious and dimwitted of the group. Right from the beginning, Trevor is portrayed as nothing else but a dummy. That's a great way to introduce our main cast. Richard Harmon as Alex Wright is nothing close to likable. He's just a geeky wannabe film director who goes looking for trouble. Does he do anything for anyone else in the running time? Nope. Yeah, our protagonist everyone.

The only plus there is for casting is having Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) return. Even though from the first film he didn't give much charm, his character has far more than the rest in this movie. However, the real missed opportunity to this sequel was having the teenagers be even more prepared for the asylum. There were actual parts that showed the teenagers devising a couple tricks to make sure they knew how to exit if necessary, but it wasn't for long. Once set up, the play out isn't any different from the original, if not worse. You think if these kids really wanted to be prepared, they would've done nothing that was done in the original film. Plus, they have no excuse because in this particular universe, the main characters also saw the movie. This means they saw 100% of what the real audience (us) saw.

Yes because the color green is so terrifying
Horror wise, there's nothing to be creeped out about now. The mythology behind the asylum is dropped which is a big reason to why this claim is made. To begin with, the asylum was already explained in the original so there's nothing the audience hasn't seen. Next is the lack of tension, for this entry, the new director wastes no time diving into its blatant jump scares and recycled ghouls. There's only one scene where something new is done and that’s some specter having an agenda. This is only revealed much later on. The violence is probably on the same level as the last but it's not effective enough to create any scares. However, like the original there are a few twists. Unfortunately the twists aren't as effective either because of their lack of physical knowledge. Music was again absent 99% of the time due to its genre but again, with this kind of story, it doesn't help.

There are some points in the running time that are done differently from that of the original but that's not saying a whole lot. The characters are even less likable than the last batch and the tension barely exists. It could've gone somewhere but its poorly written script did not permit that.

Points Earned --> 3:10

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