rainfall: Light refracts through glasses on the grass. (rose colored glasses)
Libek ([personal profile] rainfall) wrote2013-09-14 07:32 pm

Grave Encounters (1 & 2)

Reminded by this post on my dash the other day, I checked on Netflix and Grave Encounters and Grave Encounters 2 are both still available to stream. Awesome.

If you've got a Netflix account and you're a fan of found footage horror -- or at least open to seeing one done right -- then you should definitely check these out. What have you got to lose?!

There are some caveats. I'll try to avoid spoilers for the first part of this post, so feel free to read on down. I'll tell you when to stop!



The Recommendation(s)

Now, the original Grave Encounters gets my wholehearted recommendation. The premise is fun -- the haunted house they explore is interesting -- and there's plenty of excuse to keep the cameras rolling. (For one thing, most of both movies take place in pitch darkness, and the cameras are the only light source the characters have with them.) Even if you don't watch the sequel, you should definitely watch this one. Just go do it.

The second one...

Well, the second one is more of a mixed bag. If you make it through the opening, you'll enjoy the rest of it just fine -- but the opening is a bit gag-worthy. As opposed to the first movie, which featured a full cast of mature adults, the second movie follows a group of college kids -- and, to put it mildly, these kids are jackoffs.

There's a lot of stupid gross humor -- and specifically, sexual humor -- in the opening. You may want to punch one or more of the kids.

(Or, depending on who you hung out with in college, they might just bring back pangs of nostalgia.)

The good part here is that these incredibly unlikable characters are honestly more fun to watch die. :D But I can't recommend the movie without this disclaimer.


Why These Movies Are Worth Watching

(SPOILERS START HERE.)

The original Grave Encounters has a lot of fun with the idea of reality television and Ghost Hunters-type shows in general; its name comes from the TV show within the movie, and the movie claims to be unedited footage from the show's sixth episode, which was the last filmed because the cast and crew disappeared.

Of course, the first five episodes were obviously uneventful -- and at this point any hope that most of the characters ever had of seeing a real ghost has long silence died. They're comfortable in their roles as actors, encouraging and sometimes even bribing the people they meet to make the show more interesting for the viewers at home. They don't expect their newest episode, visiting an abandoned mental hospital, to be any different.

In this way, we get to spend some time really taking the piss out of the concept of found footage horror, poking fun at ourselves before we get started. I always enjoy this sequence.

When the second movie gets started, this is pushed even further: Grave Encounters 2 is a movie about making a sequel to the first movie. We get to see a few YouTube movie reviews of the original movie, and the main cast are hopeful filmmakers themselves, who then start to get creepy messages suggesting that the events in Grave Encounters were real, which sparks a trip around the country and into Canada to try to meet the actors and then find the asylum where the movie was filmed.

It's all very meta, exploring the changed names of the locations and the "actors", playing with even more tropes than the original.

So there's that.

Another great thing that both movies do very effectively is answer the penultimate question of any haunted house movie: WHY DON'T THEY JUST LEAVE? And their solution is so shivery that I'm honestly not going to spoil it for you even here. ;) Just go watch it.

Finally, and this one is admittedly more of a footnote -- but if the idea of a horror movie set in a mental hospital made you wince, then this one does make it clear, I think, that people with mental illnesses are not what's scary: turn-of-the-century treatments, which were completely terrible, are what's scary. The doctors are evil, literally by the end of the first movie, and they tortured their patients until their patients could do nothing but lash out.

It might not even have been intentional, but I still liked seeing it.


Hope you give these movies a chance and that you enjoy them! ♥