The Vicious Brothers, now taking writing duties only, make their script look more self-conscious than self-aware.
Grave Encounters 2
The Vicious Brothers’ Grave Encounters, a derivative horror movie that made good use of its abandoned asylum location, became something of a mini-hit when it came out last year. Or at least that’s how Grave Encounters 2 makes it look with a compilation of (real and faked) YouTube reviews for the first film. One of these reviewers is Alex Wright (Richard Harmon), a film school student who hated Grave Encounters. Like New Nightmare or, more appropriately, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, this sequel is self-aware of its predecessor.
The meta route that Grave Encounters 2 takes wouldn’t have been a bad one if everything about it wasn’t so obnoxious. After Alex’s video review gets a response from an unknown user who reveals the true location of the asylum, he investigates and discovers that Grave Encounters is real. Alex meets a producer who says that, other than some poorly added CGI, every frame was legitimate (a joke that becomes funny for all the wrong reasons when the shoddy special effects are thrown around here in copious amounts).
The Vicious Brothers, now taking writing duties only, make their script look more self-conscious than self-aware. If the choice to make its main character a selfish critic wasn’t bad enough, several scenes are dedicated to showing excerpts from his thesis film, a purposely corny and clichéd riff on the Saw films. The Vicious Brothers making fun of someone else for shamelessly ripping off better movies would have been a nice little joke poking fun at themselves, but it’s painfully obvious that these scenes are not what they intended. The hypocrisy alone might have been funny if everything wasn’t so painful to watch.
Alex eventually decides to make his thesis film be a documentary exposing the truth behind Grave Encounters and brings four future victims with him to the abandoned mental hospital. That’s when this sequel turns into a remake, with camera angles and scenes being recycled before our very eyes until things go to hell in no time.
At that point Grave Encounters 2 completely loses it. Half-baked attempts at explaining some of the more mysterious elements of the asylum only take the fun out of them. The movie’s own internal logic falls on its face as we see security camera footage from a building that, as we later find out, never actually existed in the first place. By the time the climax comes around with its floating cameras (lifted straight out of Chronicle) and CGI vortexes of doom there’s no point even bothering with what’s on screen. It’s clear that everyone involved put as much thought into this movie as they believed their target audience would.
Grave Encounters 2 fails as a self-aware look at the first film because the series’ modest success doesn’t make it deserving of one. A third film is inevitable, but hopefully viewers will learn from their mistakes after seeing this one. Waste any more time with these films and you’d be better off in a madhouse.