Film Review: Variety Says ‘Extraterrestrial’ Is Entertaining, If Not Memorable

“Until the 80-minute mark, “Extraterrestrial” is a slick, pacey but not particularly scary or surprising not-quite-slasher movie, the only real difference being that instead of getting bloodily offed, the characters mostly get snatched by their abductors (depicted as the standard humanoid “gray aliens” of UFO lore) to a fate unknown. Unknown until that mark, that is: The pic then makes a welcome leap, allowing for some nicely designed and executed larger-scale f/x work. Unfortunately, this too-brief, visually impressive (if not all that inventive, narrative-wise) interlude is followed by a coda that’s strenuously sentimental in ways the script hasn’t remotely earned the right to exploit. That attempt at depth is further undercut by a gimmicky final shot scored to a jokey retro song choice.”

-From the Variety Review by Dennis Harvey.

Sounds like we’ll wait on it to see on streaming, even though it’s from The Vicious Brothers (Grave Encounters and Grave Encounters 2). Click “View original” in the lower left to read the entire review on Variety.com.

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New Theatrical Trailer for Grave Encounters 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

 

OK, so that’s not the actual end of the title. Sorry, for some reason if the syllables are right, I can’t stop myself from typing that after the name of a sequel ending in “two”.  Actually, there’s a point in the trailer where some poor guy appears to be doing some kind of sick electric boogaloo (it looks like ECT gone horribly wrong—you’ll know it when you see it). Anyway, I’ve been psyched about Grave Encounters 2  since I discovered it was in production!

Damn! What the fuck  was  that thing climbing out into the hallway from, well, whatever hole in the wall it came out of? I couldn’t even tell it’s gender (not that I am complaining,  that creature is grotesque enough without having to see its junk)

I raved previously about Grave Encounters when I put it on the list of Ten Trailers to Keep You Awake.  I think it might be one of, if not THE, scariest found-footage movies to come out of the US and Canada.  I’m probably in the minority here, but it scared me a hell of a lot more than Blair Witch. Spain’s [REC] is probably the most terrifying found-footage movie I’ve ever seen, and might even make my list of the top ten scariest horror movies, period- -if not the top ten, then it would definitely earn a place in the top twenty. But I digress. In the interest of full disclosure,  The Vicious Brothers wrote and directed the first film; this time they wrote the script, but handed the directing reigns to John Pollquin, making this his full-length directing début. I still have plenty of faith in The Vicious Brothers to deliver the goods. The one thing I would have liked to see, though, is a ‘viral site’ marketing the movie campaign. Especially since the movie is so ‘meta’, and involves ‘a mysterious blogger,’ (see the official plot description after the jump) they could have come up with a GREAT marketing campaign and had some fun with it. I LOVE  IT when genre films go the extra mile when it comes to promotion …and it’s clear they’re having as much fun playing with it as the fans were. Links to great, entertaining, and just plain fun promo sites will be coming soon in a feature piece, by the way, and there’s some serious must-sees in there.

Here’s the official plot description for Grave Encounters 2…

In 2011, GRAVE ENCOUNTERS was a found-footage horror phenomenon from the Vicious Brothers, with a trailer garnering over 20 million views on YouTube. Many people believed it was just a movie. They were wrong, and film student Alex Wright is out to prove it in GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2.

While researching the events depicted in the original film and the subsequent disappearance of its lead ”actor” Sean Rogerson, Alex Wright received a bizarre video from a mysterious blogger named “DeathAwaits666.” Appearing to show Rogerson still alive but trapped inside the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital from GRAVE ENCOUNTERS, Alex and his friends agree to meet the blogger at the infamous hospital in hopes of learning what really happened.*  To their horror, they quickly find themselves face-to-face with unspeakable evil. Realizing that they must be smarter and faster than Rogerson and his crew to avoid suffering the same fate, they use their knowledge of the original film to do whatever it takes to survive the sequel.

Yeah… I don’t think that last part’s gonna happen. Take a look at the first theatrical trailer for Grave Encounters 2 below!

Damn! What the fuck was  that thing climbing out into the hallway from, well, whatever hole in the wall it came out of? I couldn’t even tell its gender (not that I am complaining,  that creature is grotesque enough without having to see its junk). Bringing back the main character (and possible sole survivor) from the first movie has potential.  Thinking back, I can’t even say for sure who got the worst death in the first movie. Many times after whatever monster/demon/ghost combo got ahold of someone (causing the other characters present to scream “WHAT THE FUCK?” “SHIT!” “FUCKING RUN!”  at the top of their lungs while the footage got blurry or digitized as they either dropped the camera to come back for later or blunder quickly away from the scene) the poor bastard just …vanished.  I don’t think vanishing after being suddenly yanked into a bathtub filled to the brim with blood means they got an easy death. So, that leads me to think…

(SPOILER ALERT FOR THE ORIGINAL GRAVE ENCOUNTERS – highlight the text below to reveal and read). Who knows if they’re in some kind of hell-dimension, or just dead? I think the guy who fell down the elevator shaft and died when he hit the ground probably had it the easiest. OK, now I’m getting too spoiler-y as far as the original. Anyway, we never saw him die… his character was the biggest douchebag in the movie, but he ended up having to catch and eat live rats, then got a lobotomy. The horrible old-school ice pick kind. OK, now I’m getting too spoiler-y as far as the original and wanting to veer off topic.

Check out the first teaser poster below—the tagline struck me as kind of lackluster, but the image sure as hell got my attention!

YEEEEK

Some people are worried the movie is going to get too “meta”, which was a concern to me for the first 20 seconds or so of the trailer, when fans are recommending Grave Encounters as a great, scary movie to pick up a copy of and see, bla de-blah. After that, though, it starts to get interesting. Even though this trailer swears Grave Encounters 2 contains 2 X THE FEAR, 2 X THE INTENSITY, and  2 X THE ENCOUNTERS, I’ll just be happy if it’s up to par with the original. Also, I have a suspicion that I don’t really WANT to see a sequel twice as frightening as the original,  since the first one already was scary enough to shoot my nerves to shit!

Fuck Everything And RUN!

Most people (including me) seem to agree that if the sequel is as good as the first movie–or even a notch down– they’ll be in for a great, scary ride. Lucky Uncle Creepy, from my favorite horror news site Dread Central, has seen it and said it “could very well be the perfect sequel”.  I pretty much trust him 100% – besides being just as passionate a horror fan as I am (probably more, since he devotes so much of his time to Dread Central he seems to be on it 24/7, unlike me)  has yet to steer me wrong with a review of, well, anything as of this writing.  Oh, and they also gave us a look at a second poster that’s hard not to get a big grin looking at:

This Ain't Mark Zuckerberg

Looks like we’ll get to find out for ourselves when Grave Encounters 2 is available On Demand on October 2nd (with a theatrical release and midnight screenings beginning on October 12 … right, like I have the willpower to wait for that**). Only weeks away; time for a new “Milestone” countdown widget!  Now that I think of it, the release date is great timing for those of us who have been jonses-ing for American Horror Story: Asylum to start already, goddamnit! on October 17th. So, we’ll have GE2 to look forward to two weeks before the premiere, which should hold us over a bit longer.

Also, that buys me a little extra time on my article featuring a trilogy of my current favorite–and most terrifying– insane asylum-set horror movies (Session Nine, Asylum Blackout (nothing supernatural in that one, but JESUS it was terrifying) and of course, the original Grave Encounters). I’m also writing a piece that is in danger of growing to a novella-length essay on the history of the Danvers Asylum, which I’m fairly convinced was haunted, and I sure as hell want nothing to do with the Luxury Apartments built on the property after the Asylum was torn down. Fuck that!  Would YOU want to live there?

Oh, and the “Collinswood Hospital/Sanitorium”  (the setting for both Grave Encounters movies) is —unlike the aforementioned Danvers in Session Nine— is, thank God, completely fictional. But looking at this (fictional) atmospheric image of the exterior, you could have fooled me. Feast your eyes on the below…

Well lissen, I gotta go.

It’s not often you see an image so spooky, yet almost breathtakingly beautiful. Now THAT takes some finesse from the production design team.

*visiting the ‘real psychiatric hospital from the original’ film: Bad Fucking Idea, or Big Fucking Mistake?

**I’ll end up being just about as patient as I was with REC 3: Genesis, Asylum Blackout, Piranha 3DD  (and boy, was seeing THAT one in 2-D for less than ten bucks at home one of the best judgement calls I’ve made in the last couple of years) and V/H/S when they popped up in the “Just In” section On Demand before the official VOD date.  Let’s see, here. So I can watch it starting in less than two minutes at home for $9.99 (sometimes less than that)  instead of waiting several more weeks to see it in the theater for $12.50? Especially Though there’s nothing, and I mean nothing  like the high of seeing a Midnight Preview or an opening night showing in a packed theater full of fans just as excited to see the movie as you are …DEAL! When I have a choice between INSTANT gratification or waiting (unless I know for sure it’s going to be showing here in the Emerald City –not in a theater that’s an area code or two away– and guaranteed a lively crowd, with the date less than two, three weeks tops from now) all my willpower instantly goes down the drain when it comes to a horror movie I’ve been all hopped up to see for months.