Thursday, January 8, 2015

Grave Encounters 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Grave encounters?  Are they talking about meeting the in-laws?  Amirite?  Eh?  I'll be here all week, be sure to tip your waitress.

Grave Encounters 2 – 2 out of 5

Even though I gave the first film a 3 out of 5 (a.k.a. my average score), I still really liked it.  It’s significantly better than most “found footage” films I’ve seen, the acting was really good, the film wasn’t afraid to have a little fun and make light of ghost hunters, and, even though it didn’t really scare me, the film has a great creepy atmosphere.  Needless to say, I was surprised by this film.  However, it’s sequel?  Not so much, sadly.

Okay...I peed a little bit in pure terror.

In the reality of this franchise, the film that is Grave Encounters really happened and the movie was released for the world to watch.  Vloggers all over the internet open the story by giving their reactions to the film, some of them saying it looks really fake while others probably talked about how it was a false flag thing orchestrated by Obama.  One vlogger, a film student named Alex Wright (Richard Harmon), is convinced the film was real and is out to find more information about those who were in it.  After being reached by a mysterious person on the internet who claims to have some important info, Wright decides to make a documentary film about the actors who disappeared while making the movie.  He takes his stoner buddy Trevor (Dylan Playfair), his love interest Jennifer (Leanne Lapp), and two fellow film students; Tessa (Stephanie Bennett) and Jared (Howie Lai).  They make their way to the abandoned psychiatric hospital and are horrified to learn what the cast of Grave Encounters learn…this shit is real and there are demons, ghosts, and all kinds of creepy shit that wants them and will not let them leave until their demands are fulfilled.  Inside the hospital, Wright is shocked to find the actor from the first film, Lance Peterson—Sean Rogerson, himself—is still alive and has gone mad living in the haunted hellscape.  He claims he knows how to escape the inescapable hospital but doing so means giving the hospital and all its tormented souls in it what it wants…more souls for the taking.
Try to control yourself as they discuss the logistics of making their documentary!

So...Lance Preston just became the Gollum of the
haunted hospital, didn't he?
While I dug the story to this one and liked how it made the first film a real film for the sequel, the story just goes a little overboard for me.  The whole aspect of a group of film students getting together to investigate the first film and what happened to the people involved is pretty meta and a pretty neat thing to do with a horror film sequel that isn’t often seen—and since they are “found footage,” it actually makes sense to use the gimmick and is not just another rehash of the cheapest looking thing a franchise can go with—looking at you Paranormal Activity films. However, the end of the film feels like its story is going off the rails.  For the most part, the film stayed pretty grounded in horror film lore—it’s got the spooky abandoned hospital, scary ghouls terrorizing young people that are messing around in their area, and there’s even some Satanism thrown in as well.  However, this time the story adds even more supernatural stuff that includes trans-dimensional portals and some demons incessant need to be filmed and using the medium of movies to lure victims to their nest.

Shit, the film just turned into Paranormal Activity.  I shouldn't have brought
up that series.  It's my fault.

The PTA must have disbanded.
While the ghouls wanted to have their story told so that innocent people will come and check the place out—and have a lot of gothic teenagers make the sex in its haunted halls— is completely fine and kinda works for the story, the portal and the way out of the hospital feels a little silly to me and it really ruined the film.  Until this point, the movie was doing a great job and I was enjoying it.  The way this sequel had the survivor get out of the hospital was a little too goofy to take seriously and it also called into question of why does the tormented souls taking up resident in the place allow some people, like the teenagers interviewed in the first film or the caretaker, to come and go as they please and are not trapped inside it’s ever changing landscape meant to ensnare them for an eternity of maze navigating and shit-loosing terror and allow others to be trapped forever?
One ghost is pushing her down and another is doing that dangling spit
thing to her.  Ghosts are bullies.

Aside from the turn that I didn’t dig in the story (and didn’t dig in a big way), the acting is good and the characters, although not very deep or developed—especially Tessa and Jared, they just kinda show up out of nowhere—the actors all did their jobs well.  Admittedly, Richard Harmon does look like he’s trying to Emo-mug the camera every chance he gets…

"Wanna hear my Morrissey covers?"

"Can I read you some of my poetry?"

"My parents don't understand me."

Is this one of those YouTube videos where someone
is filming themselves singing?
One thing I have to praise, and I praised him before, was the performance of Sean Rogerson—who is playing himself and he is playing Lance Preston in this film and in the first film…that just confused me.  In this film, like I said, Rogerson has been stuck in the hospital for some time and he’s lost his mind.  At first, his performance seems hacky and is hard to take seriously because he is chewing the scenery like nobody’s business.  However, when you watch him transition from being the lunatic to being the frighteningly determined man ready to do whatever needs to be done in order to escape his hell is actually unbelievably amazing and it made me realize why he played the role as crazy as he did at the beginning.  There was a method to the madness and it really showed me how talented Rogerson is and makes me sad that I’m not seeing this guy in more things.
Never mind, I don't want to see him.  I'm too jealous of those abs.

A big improvement on the film is the fact that there is a lot more ghost happenings...and I don't mean like you can't see them but something just moved type of ghost happenings.  I'm talking about actually seeing the horror take physical form and it's ready to come and scare the shit out of you type of ghost happenings.  If you remember, that was one of my complaints from the first film.  However, the arrival of this seems to take away from the atmosphere that the first film did so well as too much of the activity in the film is as follows:  Sees Ghost/Ghoul/Demon-thing, runs away from it with lots of shots of them screaming and occasionally a glancing shot over the shoulder to see if the thing is still following, and then hide in room and/or closet where, mysteriously, the thing stops chasing them.  While it is cool seeing more ghosts show up, the repetitive formula of their arrival and ensuing shenanigans makes the film feel like it is on a loop and isn’t really ready or willing to do anything different.
"Do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior Satan?"

While my 2 out of 5 may seem like a bad score, I’ve never really seen 2 to be that bad on my spectrum (it’s those 1’s and 0’s that are bad).  A 2 always means that the film may not have delivered a completely working or engaging film but did have a lot of potential, promise, or numerous working elements.  Grave Encounters 2 does a lot right but it also came up short on enough things that it didn’t deliver the way the first one did.

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