Fans of Grave Encounters are well aware that Grave Encounters 2 (review) is now making its way onto the festival circuit and into their homes via VOD. Recently the creators of the series, The Vicious Brothers, spoke with Dread Central about Grave Encounters 2 and more.
Individually known as Stuart Ortiz and Collin Minihan, the guys preferred all their answers be attributed to The Vicious Brothers as a whole to illustrate their one-mindedness about their work. And it’s work they have big hopes for. “We wanted Grave Encounters 2 to be our Aliens to Alien. A lot of people say the sequel is a better film,” The Vicious Brothers said. “We think the sequel that we’ve come up with is twice everything we delivered in the first film.”
With the success of the first movie, The Vicious Brothers jumped at the chance to make a sequel. However, initially the idea of another film wasn’t even on the radar. “We really didn’t have an idea. The first movie actually had an extended ending that we ended up cutting because the runtime was so long,” The Vicious Brothers said. “Going into the second movie, we weren’t even sure if we were going to do a sequel at all, but then the original was so successful for Tribeca that they started talking to us about it. Our main concern was that if we were going to do a sequel, we didn’t just rehash the first movie. We think horror films especially tend to be kind of notorious for having really shitty sequels. We only wanted to do it if we could actually do something where we really liked the idea and thought it was worth doing.”
And after some brainstorming sessions, The Vicious Brothers began to focus in on what they wanted from the sequel. “We thought it would be really cool to do something meta,” The Vicious Brothers said. “I know The Blair Witch 2 tried it, and obviously that movie gets a lot of flack and didn’t live up to the first one’s expectations. And it’s a similar situation with the Human Centipede 2. So we really wanted to be the first found footage movie that takes a sequel in a really meta direction but does it in a way that’s satisfying to the audience, and we think we made a better film than the first one.”
And anyone who’s seen the original Grave Encounters knows a sequel would have to at least reference main character Lance Preston, played by Sean Rogerson. The Vicious Brothers did better than that. They brought Rogerson back for the second film as Lance Preston, but in an entirely new light. “Sean Rogerson is fantastic,” The Vicious Brothers said. “We can’t say enough good things about him. He’s got such energy on set and he’s so gung-ho and willing to do whatever. For example, we didn’t even have the financing closed yet for Grave Encounters 2; it looked like it was going to come together, but it wasn’t finalized yet. And we knew everyone was going to want us to have this movie ready for Halloween, and it was kind of getting to be crunch time and we were like, ‘Listen, Sean, we want you to start losing weight, but we can’t guarantee that the movie is going to be made yet.’ And he was just like, ‘All right, fuck it. I trust you guys. It’s probably going to happen.’ And he just started starving himself. I think a lot of actors would have been like, ‘Where’s my contract before I start doing something like that?'”
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Continuing on Rogerson and his character, The Vicious Brothers said, “We knew right away that we wanted to bring him back. No matter what, we were going to bring him back. Sean was excited about it because the new role took his character in such a different direction. Even though he’s playing the same character, he might as well be someone completely different because the building has really changed his personality over the course of the time that he’s been stuck in there. He’s been driven mad, and it was really awesome to see him become the madman on set and carry the energy.”
After writing the sequel, The Vicious Brothers made the decision to turn over the directorial reins. “It came down to a practical thing, really,” The Vicious Brothers said. “At the time the movie was about to go into pre-production, we were finishing up this proof of concept trailer, a pretty elaborate little trailer that we made that’s sort of like a short film in its own right. We’re using it to try to get investors for our next project that we’re hoping to get going at the beginning of next year. But it was still being edited, and there’s a lot of 3D work, so there was still a lot of work we had to put into the trailer. And we didn’t want to take on the full responsibility of the directorial side of Grave Encounters 2 because we didn’t want to compromise. We wanted to be able to give enough attention to both.”
The director they chose, John Poliquin, made his feature film directorial debut with Grave Encounters 2. “He’s a friend of ours that we’ve known for several years,” The Vicious Brothers said. “He’s a pretty prolific music video director here in Canada. He does crazy work; he does shit that I don’t even known how he does it all the time. He’s a mad scientist genius kind of guy. So right off the bat we were like, ‘Maybe this would be up JT’s alley.’ And we had one meeting with him where we just had some beers and kind of talked generally about the project, and it was obvious within 20 minutes that he totally got the material and would be a good fit.”
But even though they aren’t in the director’s chair, The Vicious Brothers left their mark on the making of Grave Encounters 2. “We were still very involved in the film,” The Vicious Brothers said. “We were there for a lot of the shoot, and we actually co-edited the movie. We had two editing stations at the hospital location so on day two, when the footage from day one was available and ready to go, you’d start editing it so by the time the movie was done, we had 35 to 40 minutes of it already cut.” They continued, “This franchise is kind of our baby so we definitely have a vested interest in making it turn out good.”
And to think all this success started from a leaked YouTube trailer. “It was crazy,” The Vicious Brothers said. “With the first movie it was such a long process of getting the thing made and getting a US distributor. We cut the trailer for the first film before we signed the deal with Tribeca. We were writing another project at the time and letting the chips just fall wherever they may with Grave, and then we were like, ‘You know what? Screw it. Let’s just leak the trailer to YouTube and see what happens.’ It was crazy. It just took off. We think that helped with its success internationally and in other markets as well just because people noticed the demand for it at that point, and it was really a testament to YouTube being the reason we’re sitting here talking about a sequel right now. That was exciting, and we just really wanted to make something fresh with this new one.”
Which leads to the obligatory question of where does the Grave Encounters series go from here? “It all depends on how Tribeca does with it,” The Vicious Brothers said. “We’re sure if they do well, they’d be interested in continuing the franchise, and we feel like if the people want another sequel, then absolutely. We’ve already talked around some ideas and landed on something that might be fun. So we’ll have to wait and see how this goes over. It’d be nice to do a solid trilogy. And with a third movie, even if we don’t direct it, we’ll be actively involved.”
The Vicious Brothers are currently turning their attention to another horrific topic, alien abduction. In describing their newest project, they said, “It’s a sci-fi, horror movie, alien abduction thing very much inspired by the film Fire in the Sky, which we are huge fans of. That movie has that scene, the abduction scene… it’s still to this day the scariest thing we’ve ever seen having to do with alien abduction, and we’d like a chance to make our own version of that. It’s called The Visitors, and we’re hoping to get that going at the beginning of next year.”
So fans will have to wait on that one, but Grave Encounters 2 is here now! The film hit iTunes on Monday, October 1, and nationwide video-on-demand on Tuesday, October 2. It opens in six cities (New York, Baltimore, Phoenix, Denver, San Diego and Columbus) on October 12. Check out the official Grave Encounters 2 website for all the info on the releases. The film will be having its Canadian premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
You can get up-to-the-minute info on the official Grave Encounters Facebook page and the official Grave Encounters 2 Facebook page. The Vicious Brothers also want fans to know that they are very active on Twitter and encourage anyone who wants to correspond with the duo to hit them up at @VICIOUSBROS. “We don’t have moderators,” The Vicious Brothers said. “It’s just us so if people want to give us a shout or ask a question, they can do that.”
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