Alex recruits fellow students Trevor (Dylan Playfair), Jennifer (Leanne Lapp), Tessa (Stephanie Bennett) and Jared (Howie Lai), and the group heads north, filming their journey as a documentary to prove that the Grave Encounters filmmakers actually died inside the hospital. Initially, only Alex truly believes in their mission -- the others think it's a fun road trip -- but as they delve deeper into the facility, the others come to realize that "death awaits" in real life.
The End Result
That said, if you liked the first film, you'll find plenty to enjoy in Grave Encounters 2 -- that is, if you're patient enough to sit through the opening act, which drags on for 35 minutes before finally stepping foot inside the hospital. Like its predecessor, it provides good entertainment value for those who complain that most found footage fare doesn't show enough on screen; unlike most of its ilk, GE2 is willing to sacrifice some sense of realism for the sake of capturing everything that happens with near-pristine clarity. (At one point, a ghost even acts as a cameraman when there aren't enough able-bodies humans left standing.) It's very polished for this traditionally gritty, micro-budget style of movie; with its CGI effects-heavy content, you certainly don't get the sense that it's just a couple of friends goofing around with a handheld camera.
Frankly, outside of Cloverfield, the Grave Encounters flicks might be the most cinematic of the recent found footage horror movement. Watching these films is like walking through a Halloween haunted house attraction, with ghouls lurking behind every door, ready to pounce. There's a sense of fun about it all, but there's no subtlety and little concern for narrative depth or originality. It's fluffy fare whose approach isn't realistic enough to draw most viewers in to the depth required to truly terrify them, but for many, a couple of cheap jump scares might be all they need to have a good time.
- Acting: C (OK, but lacking the realism needed for the found footage style.)
- Direction: C+ (Delivers a couple of scares and some nice visuals, but the camerawork is too on the nose.)
- Script: C- (A creative concept, but the script is slow to start and ends up borrowing too liberally from other horror movies.)
- Gore/Effects: C+ (Solid but fairly obvious CGI effects.)
- Overall: C (There's a level of fun involved with the concept and the haunted house format, but in the end, it feels tame, shallow and derivative.)
Grave Encounters 2 is directed by John Poliquin and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: October 12, 2012.