REVIEW: Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

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Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

Grade: C+

Meta:  A term, especially in art, used to characterize something that is characteristically self-referential.

This is all Wes Craven’s fault.  First he made A New Nightmare (1994), where Robert Englund plays not only Freddy Kreuger, but also himself, haunting real-life Heather Langenkamp, best known as Nancy, the original “final girl” of the Elm Street series.  He then perfected the concept with 1996’s Scream, a horror movie where the characters allude to other horror movies and knowingly behave according to their “rules.”

“Meta” horror took off, culminating with today’s subject, Grave Encounters 2.  Why do I write “culminating”?  Because the answer to the question: “How much more meta could a horror movie get than Grave Encounters 2?” is “none.”  None more meta.

As Bloodcrypt’s resident found footage guru, I have to admit I got a little half-mast chubby during the first 10 minutes of the film, where random horror fans name drop the titans of the genre: Blair Witch, Rec, Paranormal Activity.  They do so while discussing the original Grave Encounters with varying degrees of rapture and disdain.

The protagonist, a scrawny little turd named Alex, becomes convinced that Grave Encounters (about a ghost-hunting t.v. crew who set up shop inside an abandoned mental hospital) actually happened.  Like, those were real people, and some producer acquired the footage, gave the victims “actor” names on imdb, and even created the name “The Vicious Brothers” as auteurs of the film.  Of course, the Vicious Brothers wrote the film you’re currently watching, Grave Encounters 2.

See what I mean?  No more fucking meta could this shit be.

Adding to Alex’s case is that he keeps getting comments on his YouTube posts from “DeathAwaits666” which direct him to the site of the hospital featured in the film.  If what you’re thinking right now is, “Loomis, don’t tell me a fucking demon signed up for a YouTube account and posts comments on scrawny little turds’ video blogs to lure them to their deaths,” well, I’m sorry.  I have to fucking tell you that.  Thankfully, unlike other shitshow horror flicks that have tried to make the internet a conduit of supernatural evil (FeardotCom limps lamely to mind), it’s not a central plot point.

I’m making this all sound pretty terrible, but it’s actually executed pretty well.  Anyway, Alex and his crew make it to the hospital, and I’ll be honest: It’s nice to see the ol’ girl again.  It really is a creepy fucking building.  The couple scares Grave Encounters 2has are pretty derivative of the first film, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If it were, then fuckwits like me wouldn’t have sat through all those Friday the 13th sequels, now would we?

There’s a nice bit in the middle where you think the film’s taken a crazy turn, and an easily predictable (if you’ve seen the first one) appearance toward the end by one of original “cast” members.  Other than that, it’s only the concept that’s especially memorable.

So.  Much.  Meta.

REVIEW: Grave Encounters (2011)

 

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Grade: B

 

Don’t worry about the retarded-sounding title. It’s meant to sound retarded. It’s actually the name of the cheesy Ghotshunters-style television show that works as the very clever premise of this solid little Canadian flick.

 

What’s clever about it, you ask? Well, Dr. Loomis is your resident found footage expert around these parts. And while I dig the genre, even I must admit that it has its limitations. In basically every film from the sub-genre, there’s that shit-gets-cray moment when you say, “Ok, nobody would still be filming this.”

 

Grave Encounters has that angle pretty well covered. The characters are cynical-as-fuck documentarians who take their cameras to supposedly haunted places and look for ghosts and shit. Their latest expedition leads them to an old, closed-down mental hospital, where they have a caretaker lock them inside for the night, you know, for the extra drama that the fucktards who watch these shows like they’re National Geographic specials eat up.

 

The film starts pretty slowly, lots of backstory and “let’s get this over with” dialogue. Their incredulity turns to frustration as morning dawns (at least according to their cell phones), but all the exits they try are either blocked up or lead to other corridors. The way events commence mildly (a rolling, empty wheelchair) and get increasingly dicey (bathtubs of blood, demons) is executed well, and there’s some very cool Cukoo’s Nest shit going on. Best of all, since they’re there to record supernatural shit (even though they don’t really believe in said supernatural shit), that’s enough excuse to keep the cameras rolling, despite the fact that demons are writing “hello” on people’s backs amongst other inconsiderate demon behavior.

 

It’s not a great movie, by any means, but I’m bumping it up to a B because I’d never heard of it before seeing it recommended to me by Netlix instant, and it was a pleasant fucking surprise. You don’t encounter those often, ya feel me? Of course, this means you’ll watch it and be all like, “Loomis, that was nowhere near as good as you said it was, you fucking quack. And your lame-ass puns suck all the dicks.” Then I’ll give you your money back, you ungrateful cocksuckers.