Grave Encounters 2 (2012)
Directed by John Poliquin
I make no bones about it... I adored the first Grave Encounters. It was a found footage movie for people who say that nothing ever happens or you never see anything in a found footage movie. While not perfect by any means, it delivered some solid chills and loads of fun. Could that energy carry over to its sequel, Grave Encounters 2? Yes and no.
Before we begin, let's catch you up on the plot. An aspiring horror filmmaker named Alex (an incredible performance by Richard Harmon) becomes obsessed with whether or not the film Grave Encounters was a hoax or rooted in reality. Where is Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson)? Is he really missing? Why hasn't the actor gone on to do anything else? It's not too long before Alex starts making inquiries via social media, and wouldn't you know it, a user by the name of "DeathAwaits666" responds with an interesting proposition: Come to the asylum in which the movie was filmed and he/she/it will reveal all. Unable to resist, Alex grabs his best friends and girlfriend and heads out to learn the truth. To tell you anything more would do you a disservice as there are plenty of twists and turns to be found in Grave Encounters 2 so let's get to the bottom line... how is it? Does it compare to the original?
In many ways Grave Encounters 2 trumps its predecessor. In fact, if you look at just the first two acts, it is one of the most smartly written (kudos to the Vicious Brothers for doling out one hell of a script) and directed movies this reviewer has seen all year. At the helm is John Poliquin, and he takes the events of the first film and builds upon them in the most clever of ways. Poliquin's direction is beyond spot on, and he and the Vicious Brothers collectively managed to deliver an almost perfect sequel to Grave Encounters. But then it happens... the dreaded third act...
Why can't movies come to a satisfying conclusion anymore (and no, I'm not just talking about The Devil Inside)? This year I've sat through a nearly countless number of flicks that all fall apart during what should be the crescendo of the entire experience. While Grave Encounters 2 doesn't outright go to pieces, it does interject something completely new to the series... a seemingly endless amount of exposition and moments that go nowhere. What made Grave Encounters and even the first two thirds of Grave Encounters 2 work was the mile a minute mayhem that transpires while you're sitting there with friends spooked and having a blast. Here, the focus shifts from the ghosts themselves in the film's final 20 minutes to one of the characters and the asylum itself. Expository overload aside, there are completely needless scenes as well. Did we really need to pause the action to dwell on a dude eating a rat or some other redundancy or reiteration? These moments are just superfluous and add nothing but length to the runtime. If just ten minutes of the third act had been excised, we would have had a complete and total winner here. As is, the action grinds to a halt and you're left waiting for it to pick up again. This is probably one of the most glaring pacing issues you're ever likely to see. Once the rants and the needless bits are over, things get back on track for the final moments, but wow, what a hike to get there.
Grave Encounters 2 does way more right than it does wrong and for the most part delivers a sick, intense, and scary white-knuckled spookshow that reveres the groundwork set up by the original and expands upon it on every level. You really can't ask for more in a sequel than that. It's well worth the ride even though said ride slows to a crawl near the end. Still, it's a pretty damned good Halloween treat!
3 1/2 out of 5