Blu-ray Review "Grave Encounters 2"

Actors: Richard Harmon, Sean Rogerson, Leanne Lapp, Dylan Playfair, Stephanie Bennett
Directors: John Poliquin
Rated: Unrated
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

I watch a lot of crappy horror movies and I am a fan of “Grace Encounters”, which was not one of them.  So when I heard that there was a second film in the works, I was thrilled.  “Grave Encounters 2” takes what was good about the first film and then really builds on its success. This film really takes a cool and unique approach to the story and comes packed with bigger scares and some great twists. The first film was written and directed by The Vicious Brothers, click here for our interview with them, but on this film they stepped aside from directing and focused on writing. This was a good move as the film is much smarter. Even though, this didn’t really leave me with the same “WTF” feeling watching it a second time, it is still a blast and a must watch for any fans or hater of the first film!

Official Premise: “Grave Encounters” was a found-footage horror phenomenon that many people believed was just a movie. Film student Alex Wright is out to prove them wrong in “Grave Encounters 2″. Alex is as obsessed with the first film, as the 20 million people who viewed its viral trailer on YouTube. While he and his friends research the events and visit the real psychiatric hospital depicted in the original film, they find themselves face-to-face with unspeakable evil, banking on the hope that their knowledge of the original film will help them survive the sequel.

This release comes as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  The 1080p transfer works well with the darkness of the film but you have to remember this was shot handheld and made to look raw. So it’s not perfect but is sharp and delivers with the way it is meant to look. At least New Video released “Grave Encounters 2” on Blu-ray since they only gave the first film a DVD release. The special features are a bit of a let down. The only thing included is “An Interview with The Vicious Brothers, Presented by American Express”. Having spoken with these guys, they are very entertaining and fun but I would have loved to seen a commentary track or some featurettes. Either way I am still counting down the days till “Grave Encounters 3″! Bring it on!

The Art of Joe Alves, Production Designer of “Jaws” and “Close Encounters,” Now Available to Fans


With almost six decades in the film business, it would be hard for Joe Alves to pick his favorite project. Alves, an Oscar nominated and BAFTA award winning production designer, is responsible for the look of such classic films as “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Escape From New York” and many others. Recently Alves decided to offer to fans the opportunity to purchase autographed copies of some of his story boards from “Jaws” at his new site –

Alves is also offering an exclusive autographed compilation of some of his conceptions for “Close Encounters” as well as a composite of his visions of the ID from “Forbidden Planet,” one of the first Hollywood features Mr. Alves worked on.

With this year marking the 35th Anniversary of “Close Encounters” please take a moment to revisit my interview with Mr. Alves in which he discusses his amazing career.

Mr. Alves has graciously provided Media Mikes readers a chance to win an autographed “Jaws” illustration of their choice. All you have to do is let us know your favorite scene from “Jaws.” One random winner will be picked from all comments and that winner will be notified by email. Contest ends at Midnight EST on December 16.


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Film Review “Grave Encounters 2”

Directed by: John Poliquin
Starring: Richard Harmon, Sean Rogerson, Stephanie Bennett, Dylan Playfair, Leanne Lapp, Howard Lai, Ben Wilkinson
Distributed by: Tribeca Film
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 99 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When I first saw the film “Grace Encounters”, I thought I was in for just another shitty horror film.  I was really pleasantly surprised.  The film had a lot of good jumps and feels a lot bigger than it is.  The film is low budget though the quality seems a lot higher.  So now we have “Grave Encounters 2″, is this just another shitty sequel? That answer is definitely no.  This film takes a unique approach to the found-footage genre and even improves on the film before it.  There are bigger scares, a bigger (and clever) plot and bigger production. Don’t miss this one!

Official Premise: Grave Encounters” was a found-footage horror phenomenon that many people believed was just a movie. Film student Alex Wright is out to prove them wrong in “Grave Encounters 2”. Alex is as obsessed with the first film, as the 20 million people who viewed its viral trailer on YouTube. While he and his friends research the events and visit the real psychiatric hospital depicted in the original film, they find themselves face-to-face with unspeakable evil, banking on the hope that their knowledge of the original film will help them survive the sequel.

The first film was written and directed by The Vicious Brothers, read out interview with them here.  On the sequel, the duo stepped aside from directing and focused on writing.  This really worked well for the sequel, since they had time to focus on the script and make it really kick ass.  These guys are going to be huge, they really know how to setup a horror film and execute it well. John Poliquin steps in the director’s chair and he also really nails it. Tribeca Film is one of my favorite studios.  They have been releasing a lot of quality films and have become a force to be reckoned with distributed independent films. All I have to say is I want “Grave Encounters 3”!

Vicious Brothers talks about their sequel to “Grave Encounters”

Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz make up the Vicious Brothers.  They are the Writers/Directors of “Grave Encounters” and Writers of “Grave Encounters 2”. The first film has already become a cult classic after a very short time.  “Grave Encounters” is an awesome found-footage horror film and the sequel is twice as good as he first one. Keep an eye out for these guys because they are going to be huge. The guys took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about their sequel and what we can expect next.

Mike Gencarelli: Where you guys get the name the Vicious Brothers from?
Stuart Ortiz: When we were close to being done with “Grave Encounters”, we figured we should come up with a directing handle. Since if you have just two dudes names it is too much information for the audience to take in.
Colin Minihan: Dude, just tell him the honest answer. He was coming out of a huge bender…
SO: [laughs]
CM: …and he woke up one morning had the name in his mind and just wouldn’t shut up about it. I just went along with it. [laughs]

MG: Are you surprised with the quick cult status the the first film has achieved?
CM: Yeah it has been really cool to see all the different countries take to it. We are very excited for them to see the sequel?

MG: Why did you step aside on this film and let John Poliquin take over directing?
SO: The main reason was that right when “Grave Encounters 2” became a reality and we were going to move forward. We are also at the same time finishing up another project that is a sort of proof-of-concept trailer that we made for a film we are trying to get off the ground right now. It would have been too much having to go into production on “Grave Encounters 2” and then finishing up the other project. We just didn’t want to be able to commit 100% to it. We have known JP along time. He is a great director and we were friends with him anyway. After one conversation with us, he totally got the material. It really seemed to make sense.

MG: Tell us about the production on “Grave Encounters 2” and how it compares to the first film?
CM: The production definitely differed a fair bit [laughs]. On the first one, Stu and I just were just constantly writing and make “Grave Encounters” almost out of necessity almost with no money. It was literally Stu and I running around a mental institution with the actors. It became a success and allowed us to do the things we wanted to do on the first film but didn’t have the manpower or visual effects budget. I think as a result we really crammed this movie with as much stuff as we could. We stretched this budget way further than we thought we could, while still staying sane and pulling it off. I am definitely glad we didn’t pussy out and make something safe. We really pushed the limit and made JP’s life challenging for sure.

MG: Shooting at the mental institution, any things creepy happen during production?
CM: I definitely below in ghosts and have had a few weird occurrences in my life for sure. I am one of these people that can walk into a house and if I am not paying attention I can pick up a vibe.
SO: Colin has a radar for that shit. Down to the point if we go something I would ask “Yo, you getting a haunted vibe?” He will look around, squint his eyes and say yes or no”. We were just in London a few weeks ago and he was just freaking out the whole time saying “This whole city is haunted man!” [laughs].
CM: As far as the building goes, when there is so much energy and people on set, in order to experience something you really need to be alone and in a quiet place. Otherwise, there is too much distraction.

MG: Tell us about the decision to bring back Lance Preston?
SO: We kept a tight relationship with the actor, Sean Rogerson. We would hang out all the time. Even from the very beginning, after we finished “Grave Encounters”, we knew from the get-go that no matter what we did, Sean was going to be in it.

MG: The ghosts in the film are super creepy, tell us about how they were conceived?
CM: I think when you are writing it you just try and do to a dark place and find out what is going to scare ourselves. We tried to visualize it with some sketches and then just put on the makeup and hoped that when you turn the lights off and hit the night vision that it is as effective as it is in your head.

MG: “Grave Encounters 2” takes a real clever approach to found-footage genre, what were you concerned about most that you wanted to accomplish when writing the sequel?
SO: There was a couple of different things. We didn’t want to retrace our foot steps and it was important for us to do something different. There was so many possibilities especially if you are talking about a found-footage or mockumentary approach. You can go even farther than a convention film. It seemed like a waste just to do the same thing again. First and foremost was just to do something fresh. They Colin came up with this idea to be set in the “real world”, where people know about the movie and there is this conspiracy. That was the #1 priority. The #2 was that one we were in the building was to actually how that the building is a character and has an agenda and purpose of its own.

MG:What do you two have planned next?
SO: We are keeping very tight lipped on it now. But we are waiting on financing to close by the end of the year. We have a sci-fi horror movie called “The Visitors” that Colin and I wrote and will co-direct again. It is a lot different than “Grave Encounters”, it is not found footage in full but does have a little bit of found footage for the most part it is a classically cinematic film. We are hoping to get that started next year.

DVD Review “Grave Encounters”

Directed by: The Vicious Brothers
Starring: Sean Rogerson, Juan Riedinger, Ashleigh Gryzko, Mackenzie Gray, Merwin Mondesir
Distributed by Tribeca Film Festival
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running time: 95 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I am sure everyone has had their fare share of first person POV shaky hand fake documentary films but this one stands out from the lesser imitations. If you like “Ghost Hunters” and all those paranormal shows, then you will like this for sure. This packs some decent scares and good visual effects for a low budget film. The film sags a little bit in the middle but there are also some good twists throughout the film that keeps it moving.

The story is simple and done before but this one packs a different little twist. it is told in “true story/missing footage format” ala “the Blair Witch Project” or “Paranormal Activity”. We follow the crew of TV series “Grave Encounters” as they prepare to shoot an episode inside the abandoned psychiatric hospital. Of course once they check-in to the hospital…they might have a hard time checking out.

The extras are short but definitely enjoyable with an interview with the Vicious Brothers and Producer Shawn Angelski. It is definitely informative and gives insight into the film. I also enjoyed the “Making of Grave Encounters”, which is obviously a behind the scenes into the production.