‘Grave Encounters 2’: scares, sequels, and filmmaking
Sit down and chat with The Vicious Brothers
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 00:11
The Vicious Brothers are back. It was only a year ago that the found footage horror film Grave Encounters, written and directed by The Vicious Brothers (Collin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz), found its legs as a low budget cult hit after underperforming at the box office. Oct. 2 saw the release of Grave Encounters 2, the quickly made follow-up. Like the first it is presented in the fashionable found footage format.
Grave Encounters 2 seems to exist in the viewer’s world. The film starts with a series of webcam blogs about the original film before settling on three film school students, Alex Write (Richard Harmon), his girlfriend Jennifer Parker (Leanne Lapp), and his best friend Trevor Thompson (Dylan Playfair).
After blogging about the film, Alex begins to receive cryptic messages about the fate of the cast and he recruits a film crew to investigate. Soon they are breaking into the Vancouver mental institution where the first film took place, which is where Grave Encounters 2 picks up and dishes out the scares.
Recently the Advocate had a chance to chat with The Vicious Brothers about the film, how they met, and where they’re headed next.
Advocate: How did the two of you get acquainted?
Vicious Brothers: We met on a filmmaking web forum when we were 14, 15 years old and in high school…where people could make their videos or whatever and post them and you could talk about them. And it was a way you could meet other filmmakers and talk to other filmmakers. We formed a relationship, just kept talking to each other for a couple years and eventually met in real life, became good friends…and at some point we were like, “Why don’t we think about maybe making a movie or something?”
A: Why did you guys decide upon a sequel instead of a new endeavor?
VB: Well we’re really close to getting our next project off the ground and it’s a really ambitious science fiction horror film with a massive budget compared to what we’ve been doing. Tribeca approached us asking for some more material and we were like, “Hey do you want to do a sequel?” and they were like, “Hell yes, we want to do a sequel.”
They also pretty much gave us carte blanche to do literally whatever we wanted. I think they green-lit the movie kind of based on a paragraph scribbled on a napkin. That was a good opportunity ‘cause you don’t get that a lot of the time with basically the company saying, “Yeah we don’t care you guys can have final cut.” It kind of freed us up to think outside the box and try to come up with something that was really fresh and unique and out there and something that we would want to watch.
A: Where did this meta sort of approach of looking back at the other film come from?
VB: I think it was always lurking under the surface whenever we joked about making a sequel. We hadn’t really seen a meta-sequel that we’d liked in a long time. And we thought it would be really fun to write, versus just rehashing things from the first film. We tried to do something fresh and we wanted this to be a younger cast so we thought it would be cool to base it around a group of film students. We wanted to try something new and get as far away from the first one as we could but then bring the audience back around to that familiarity in the second and third act.
A: What attracted you to the found footage style that you use?
VB: It was just a concept. It was the very nature of the script. There was no other way to approach the content. You’re talking about a ghost hunting TV show gone wrong. It’s best to see it from their perspective. It can put the audience member that much closer to the action.
A: Why did you guys choose to just write this film, whereas the first one you wrote and directed?
VB: The main reason is that right as we were about to go into hardcore preproduction, production of the movie, we were finishing up this proof of concept trailer which is actually for the film we’re trying to get off the ground right now. It’s like a mini short film in its own right…but we weren’t even really done with it. We wouldn’t have been able to give our full time to the movie. Quite frankly, we didn’t want to juggle it and compromise the product.
We had known John Poliquin, the director. He’s a good friend of both of ours. He’s a pretty prolific music video director here in Canada. He’s just done a ton of shit—really, really awesome work. We met with a couple different directors and then we met with JP. We sat and had a beer with him and just from talking with him for 20 minutes it was just clear that he was the guy. He got the project and totally understood what we were trying to do. We trusted him. That’s not to say we weren’t involved with the film. We were pretty actively involved still in the sequel. We had editing stations set up on the set and we literally started editing the movie on the second day of photography. The first day shit came in we started working on it. We care. We care about the franchise, the first movie’s our baby.
A: Are there any other genres you would be interested in exploring?
VB: I think we’re definitely open. I don’t see us doing a romantic comedy or a musical anytime soon. Erotic thriller. Yeah, we’re down with the erotic thriller, the psychological thriller, the horror movie, the sci-fi horror movie, any of these terms apply, as long as it can have a vicious slant to it, we’re definitely interested.
A: Lastly, any advice you might give to someone getting his or her first film off the ground?
VB: That’s a good one. I like giving advice. I think, just like, don’t go to film school. Spend that money and go make a film. Or spend that money and go buy a camera and go make 50 short films and watch them all get slightly better every time. Go buy a laptop with Final Cut Pro. You don’t really need a whole lot in today’s day and age to start making content, be it commercials, music videos, whatever, all of these things. You’ll learn the craft and it’s just important to focus on that. And if you’re trying to make a film, lock yourself in a room and write a fucking script ‘cause it’s not going to write itself.