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article imageReview: ‘Grave Encounters 2’ tries to combine too many ideas Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 29, 2012 in Entertainment
‘Grave Encounters 2’ attempts to find out what happened to the missing filmmakers from the first movie while avoiding the same fate.
Grave Encounters was an internet sensation that became an underground, international hit. The "real-life" ghost story took on a life of its own, warranting a sequel that capitalized on the phenomenon. Grave Encounters 2 took Toronto After Dark audiences back to where it all started.
Alex (Richard Harmon) is directing his thesis for film school with the help of some friends. But when he has difficulty committing his ideas to screen, he begins to explore a side project about a group of missing filmmakers. His YouTube confessions about the investigation result in further clues from a mysterious helper. Convinced he's been given the location of the original movie and disappearance, Alex and his crew head to the supposedly haunted set to discover the truth.
The film opens with real YouTube reviews of the first film in which fans praise it for being scary and critics blast it for not being scary enough. In either case, and regardless of language, they are very passionate about their position. By starting with these videos, Alex's obsession with the movie is somewhat validated by the widespread fascination of others.
The first half of the picture alternates between the student film project and amateur detective work. It is invested in introducing and establishing the characters and their relationships before putting them in danger. Practical jokes are played, crushes are revealed and embarrassing moments are caught on tape. In fact, every moment is recorded within the narrative by either a character or surveillance camera.
The actual ghostly aspect of the film is hit and miss. The slow build to their first encounter works well as it is a good contrast from the quiet nothing to the hard-hitting paranormal aggression. The physical manifestations created practically work especially well with "skinny man" being effectively disturbing as he chases the crew through the maze of corridors. However, as the story goes on, it becomes less creepy and more difficult in which to be submersed.
The introduction of a new character in the final act takes away from the narrative. His presence lends little to the story and is mostly unnecessary. Filmmakers could have gotten to the same conclusion somewhat faster using slightly different devices. Moreover, part of the ending is out of place when put into context with the rest of the film.
This movie definitely has its jump-in-your-seat moments while creating an eerie atmosphere for at least a section of the film, but it doesn't wholly live up to the reputation of its predecessor.
Director: John Poliquin
Starring: Richard Harmon, Reese Alexander and Stephanie Bennett
More about Grave Encounters 2, vicious brothers, Richard Harmon, Ghost stories, Toronto After Dark
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