Arguably the hoariest trend in recent horror history, and that’s saying plenty, is the notion that the tale you’re currently watching really happened. Honest.
Blame The Blair Witch Project for officially kicking off this instantly tired meme, but several subsequent movies have run with this dishonest baton. Even the sublimely scary trailer for the new horror film The Conjuring warns us it’s based on a true story.
Grave Encounters 2, the sequel to the modest 2011 cult hit, asks us to buy that the horrors from the first film actually happened. Cue the frightening organ music.
The sequel, out March 5 on Blu-ray and DVD, is meta all the way, with a fledgling director who thinks his career breakthrough will be exposing the truth behind those cinematic killings. That means we must endure roughly 40 minutes of set up, all the more painful given the sequel continues the first film’s “found footage” format.
The director in question is Alex (Richard Harmon), a horror purist making his own less than authentic slasher film. He’s distracted from his work when a stranger starts sending him messages about Grave Encounters, a film which Alex starts to suspect captured actual slayings.
So Alex enlists his good buddy (Dylan Playfair) and the female star of his own film (Leanne Lapp) to investigate the abandoned hospital where the first film took place.
You pretty much know what happens next, but enduring the curse-laden banter of the leads and the clunky exposition is the most horrifying aspect of the film. The romantic subplot simply evaporates upon even a cursory glance, Alex’s obsession doesn’t engage us and the self-important air wafting throughout the production will repel discriminating horror movie fans.
Grave Encounters 2 does offer a few jolts mid-film, a mildly interesting guest appearance and some creepy FX on what was likely a tiny budget. Still, the found footage shtick is even more exhausting than usual, with little rhyme or reason behind shooting everything that would help tell the story in play.
The sole home video extra is a chat with the Vicious Brothers, the duo who created the first film and wrote the sequel.