"Grave Encounters 2": A New Chapter in Fear

Photo Credit: Tribeca Films
October 17th, 2012

"Grave Encounters 2": A New Chapter in Fear

-- The found footage horror genre has spawned a new popular film series in the "Grave Encounters" movies. These independent projects by the Vicious Brothers, Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz, were debuted at Tribeca Film Festival, garnering support before their official release. The movies are lauded for their great scripts and production. Although "Grave Encounters 2" does rely heavily on the first film, you don't have to see both movies to enjoy the sequel. However, a double-feature viewing session later could prove enjoyable for any horror film buff.

In the first film, a movie producer, cameraman, host, and a psychic enter a mental hospital that has been closed down for more than 50 years. There are reports of strange activity in and around the place, so the crew of a reality TV show wants to enter the hospital and film overnight. Their intent is to research the facility and investigate the strange occurrences while filming the entire activity. As the footage continues, the cast and crew find that the exits to the building only lead to longer corridors and nightfall doesn't really seem to end. They are locked in the hospital without a way out. Meanwhile, one by one, each member of the group meets terrifying ends throughout the seventy-six hours of found footage.

Directed by John Poliquin, "Grave Encounters 2" takes place in a metafictional setting in which the fate of the film crew is portrayed in the aforementioned popular film. Alex is a horror film buff and fan of the original "Grave Encounters." When he begins receiving messages from a source who claims that the movie was not real, the young man's fascination with the film turns to obsession. In addition to serving as an unconventional link between the two films, this use of metafiction on the part of the Vicious Brothers justifies the return to the asylum. Instead of feeling forced, the plot device helps propel the plot seamlessly forward at a pace that audiences are eager to follow.

The metafictional side of the story also plays a crucial role when Alex and his film crew of high school friends begin to realize that they, too, have become trapped in the hospital. The kids actually use elements of the first film to devise a means of survival in the asylum. A surprise plot twist that comes three-quarters of the way through the film brings that metafiction into the realm of reality, turning the work into a true crossover.

In addition to returning to the original film, "Grave Encounters 2" also delves further into the asylum's background. The first details are revealed by Alex's mysterious messaging friend, who clues him into the reality of the terrible fate of the former film crew. More secrets are revealed throughout the film to keep fans of the previous movie interested without making the movie too technical. Fans of the film will appreciate how an analysis of the previous films may just help the new characters caught in the terrible maze of the mental hospital.

The most significant changes from the original to its sequel are the cast. Most of the characters of "Grave Encounters" did not return for the sequel but were killed off. The new people in the film are less mature in comparison, to the point of being almost naive. They enter the mental hospital entertaining the notion that the events of the first film truly transpired yet are genuinely shocked when they discover the evidence for themselves. Although their aim may have been investigation, it provides little justification for a group of otherwise helpless youth entering an abandoned building without taking any precautions. With that said, the plot's return to the asylum is plausible and serves as a clever way to bring the first film's relevance into the second.

"Grave Encounters 2" is a horrific film in the found footage genre that will not let down the avid horror film enthusiast or the fan waiting to hear more about the Collinwood Psychiatric Hospital.