Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

Last year 'Grave Encounters' jumped clothes on and all into the already crowded "found footage" pool, offering something seemingly unique but also very, very, familiar. Some folks loved the film, it actually showed up on more than a few horror critics year end 10 best lists. I didn't quite get it. It did some things very well, but I felt it was at best derivative and at worst lazy (check out my full review here). However based on the fact some liked it, here we are with the inevitable quick turn around sequel.

In a review of one of the 'Twilight' films I made a point about the different ways film makers could go with sequels. You could either rehash the ideas from the first film or place your characters in completely different situations and watch how they react and grow. Recently horror films have been onset by a third type of sequel, what for all intents and purposes, I'll call the "Meta-Sequel." This is where new characters are introduced who know all about the events of the first film and are too cool for school because of it. The first film I remember this happening with was the ill fated 'Blair Witch 2', the 'Scream' franchise tread this water, but never really took the complete plunge. 'Grave Encounters 2' follows the same path with ridiculous results.

Richard Harmon ('Trick Or Treat') is Alex Wright (sadly not 'Das Wunderkind' the dancing wrestler from late 90's WCW) an emo pussy film school student looking to finish his slasher film project for class. His roommate Trevor, is a stoner who also has a project to finish which mostly involves smoking weed on camera (pretty sure that's how Spielberg started). Alex wants to bang his leading lady, and she might be up for it. Trevor throws one of those parties that you only see in movies, where half naked pseudo-lesbians make out on the dance floor and the bedrooms look like a scene from a Fellini satirical. Alex can't party yet though because he needs to post his online review of the first 'Grave Encounters' (Meta!).

After posting his review Alex begins to get fucked up messages from someone named "Hell Awaits." He becomes obsessed with the messages and the mythology of first film, eventually abandoning his own film in pursuit of chasing the legend of the first film. He flies to LA to confront the first films producer. He convinces his friends they should drive to Vancouver to investigate the mental asylum that was used in the first film. He's really a pain in the ass about the whole thing, even going so far as to confront the parents of original cast member, Sean Rogerson.

After all these machinations our newest group of unlikable protagonists (an issue in the first film as well) finally make their way to the great white north, Vancouver to be exact, home of the greatest strip clubs in the world, or so I'm told. Shit starts to happen, and it starts to feel like we've stumbled into a horror movie (Woo Hoo!). Paint by numbers haunted house scares follow. Then they meet up with Sean Rogerson - the actor, not Lance Preston the character from the first movie (we've gone Meta again...). Sean has been stuck in the asylum for almost 10 years and despite living on a strict diet of live rat meat seems pretty damn fit and trim.

Here is where the film flies off the rails again. Sure strange shit is happening and people are getting killed (which is always good - especially with these characters) but it really makes little to no sense. There is a scene from the new American Horror Story Season spliced in for some reason, a mystery red door, and the vortex from 'Evil Dead 2' makes a cameo (it's tremendous). I'm left wondering if Sean Rogerson is wandering around the 13th century somewhere.

There are parts of me that understand why folks liked the first film, but the second film has more issues than TV guide. The lead is just a whiny emo film school pussy stereo type. Dear Hollywood, not all film school attendees are pussy Tim Burton wanna bees. Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. The characters are less likable than those in the first film, which I didn't think was possible. To say the plot is thin would be an insult to Twiggy herself (look it up kids). If you were really into the first one, then check it out. You may find it's like an old friend, one that's gotten really fucked up on 'shrooms since you last met, but if the first one left you feeling bored and unfulfilled - definitely skip this one as well.

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