TADFF 2012 – Grave Encounters 2

by: Martin Kessler

Grave Encounters 2 (2012) – John Poliquin
The short that was shown before the film was Annie and the Dog, which was well shot and acted and had an interesting concept. It felt a bit too confined for its 14 min runtime, and might have made an interesting feature film. It’s worth checking out if the opportunity comes up.

Grave Encounters 2 is a lowest common denominator found footage style horror film. It follows a spoiled film student named Alex who becomes obsessed with the first Grave Encounters movie. Alex puts together a crew to enter the abandoned mental institution the original is set in, where they soon find deadly supernatural terrors around every corner. It plays out a bit like watching people wander through a Halloween fright house, with creepy children, demonic doctors and nurses and generic monsters.

At times the scares of Grave Encounters 2 are so derivative and so cliché that I wondered if the filmmakers were doing it intentionally for satirical purposes, although it really does seem to take itself too seriously for that. That isn’t to say there aren’t some interesting moments and things at work in the film. It really pushes the limits of voyeurism and the found footage style horror film into areas of excess, with the camera itself being operated by supernatural force and even using the camera as an instrument of murder. Still even those interesting moments make it difficult to justify watching the film.

Grave Encounters 2 seems to be a reaction to the subtlety of films like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, and made for people who complain about those films not showing anything. With Grave Encounters 2 subtlety is thrown out the window, and it shows you absolutely everything. The only thing anchoring it to any sort of reality at all is the ‘documentary-style’ framing device. In fact the showing everything goes so far that the antagonistic supernatural force demands that the crew “film everything”, and not a single death is off-camera in the film.

In an internal logic sort of way, it would seem that all a person would have to do to survive is stay of camera. With the recent surge in found footage style horror films, it seems only natural that a film like Grave Encounters 2 would come into existence, and there will likely be others like it to come that try to push the limits of the sub-genre before it exhausts itself and interest wains.

Despite its more frustrating aspects, there is undoubtedly an audience for Grave Encounters 2, satisfying the demand for increasingly graphic, found footage style, cheap scares.

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