Approximately a year ago, Grave Encounters was released several months after having its debut showing at the Tribeca Film Festival. This feature was hyped up with a huge amount of positive buzz. Some moviegoers called it one of the scariest movies of the past few years. I found it to be unintentionally funny and extremely overrated. Fast forward to 2012, Grave Encounters 2 is now available on video-on-demand and will be available in a limited amount of theaters on October 12th. Even if you happened to enjoy the first one, the sequel is noticeably worse than the first.
Film Student Alex Wright (Richard Harmon) believes that Grave Encounters isn't just a movie, but that it actually happened. He becomes obsessed with researching the film, as his friends join him in the journey to uncover the truth. They ultimately decide to visit the real psychiatric hospital depicted in the original when they find themselves face-to-face with the unspeakable evil that they wanted to reveal. The group of students run around the building, hoping that their knowledge of the original film will help them survive.
The plot is essentially a rip-off of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 where the lead characters go to the spot where the original was shot. The attempt at telling a story in the "real world" has failed in both of these sequels. The plot build-up is lame as can be. Instead of the hauntings in the asylum increasing moment by moment, Alex investigates the location and the actors for the entire first act of the movie. All of the characters are irritating and the dialogue will have you laughing. It feels like an incredibly long time until any paranormal occurrences take place. Even though all of the twists and turns are predictable, there are some cool moments when the characters begin to have hallucinations. It's disappointing that the filmmakers weren't inventive with the asylum. It would have been interesting to learn more about its history.
There are several blank spaces throughout Grave Encounters 2 where absolutely nothing happens. These are the sequences where the director has placed a bunch of random clips from the first movie, which are completely unnecessary. Unfortunately, this sequel doesn't have very much to do with the actual hauntings of the asylum, as there isn't a variety of supernatural beings. The same monsters are used time and time again, while the first flick at least provided moviegoers with a wider assortment of these beings. During the final act, it decides that it wants to become somewhat of a thriller with a "twist" ending and all, which doesn't work in the slightest. The final minutes of Grave Encounters 2 are sure to have you laughing and shaking your head.
Nobody is going to watch this for the talent of the actors, but their bad performances stick out. There's a lot of screeching going on with these actors, which isn't a very big change from the actors starring in the original. However, Richard Harmon is absolutely horrible as Alex Wright. This is the most embarrassing acting you'll find in either of the features. If these movies were more popular, I wouldn't be surprised to see Harmon win a Razzie.
The same visual techniques from the original have been brought back for the sequel. Once any of these supernatural entities are seen by the characters, their jaws drop and they make a loud, piercing cry. While it looks incredibly fake, it was effective in the trailer for the first film. Over time, it has become repetitive. There are a lot of jump scares in this movie and none of them are effective. The same can be said about the CG work during the third act. One of the very few things that Grave Encounters got right was the atmosphere. The asylum was made to be incredibly creepy. In the sequel, audiences don't receive the same eerie build-up of the characters slowly venturing through the asylum, which is a real bummer.
Even though I didn't like the first film, Grave Encounters 2 is much worse. The build-up of walking through the hallways of the asylum is one of the only things that the original got right, which is completely absent in the sequel. Nearly everything else is recycled and no information is gained about the history of the asylum. Grave Encounters 2 doesn't even deserve a watch if you're looking for something to genuinely scare you, but it's worth a rental for those who are searching for a movie to poke fun at with friends.