Review: Grave Encounters 2 / Cert: 15 / Director: John Poliquin / Screenplay: the Vicious Brothers / Starring: Richard Harmon, Shawn C. Philips, Jennica Fulton / Release Date: Out Now
Just under a year ago, Starburst reviewed Grave Encounters, a found footage horror movie which amassed 25 million views on YouTube just for its trailer alone. It was terrifying, funny and stood out from its counterparts in a genre that can become clichéd. Well, when you hit on something that unique, there's only one thing to do: make a sequel.
Student filmmaker Alex (Harmon) becomes intrigued by the fate of the film’s original cast, particularly that of its ‘star’ Sean Rogerson, who has been reportedly missing since its release. With a mystery blogger, the ominously named DeathAwaits666, aiding him with titbits of info, his investigations eventually take him and his trusty camera crew to Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. Time to get some ghouls on film.
Like Cabin In The Woods, Grave Encounters 2 has a nice line in self-referential jokiness – the first time we meet Alex, he's giving the original Grave Encounters a damning one skull out of four online review, and there's a lot of knowing humour about the cornier conventions of horror. The film also taps into the Internet as the new medium of choice for scares. But as well as the cleverness, there's undeniable tension – caught on night vision camera, the cast exude squeaky-bottomed unease even before the demonic residents of Collingwood come out to play.
What lets the movie down is its tendency to overplay the whole studenty lifestyle thing (put away the bong, dudes). Plus, as so often in the found footage genre, there are some moments where you simply don't believe that a camcorder would have been to hand. Still, rare is the film that can laugh at itself while also making you jump out of your seat, and you can go ahead and encounter it with confidence that you will be thoroughly entertained.