The Lair Interview: Grave Encounters 2 Director John Poliquin
Grave Encounters 2. Well, back then I told you it wasn't the last you would hear about the film this month, and I’m back today with that other part. I was lucky enough to get a few minutes to sit down and ask questions of John Poliquin, the first time director at the helm of Grave Encounters 2. So read on, and find out a few things about the movie, a little bit about John, and what Wall Street could have to do with it all.
T.L. Bugg: You took over directing duties from The Vicious Brothers with Grave Encounters 2. What was your approach to the sequel and did it remain a collaborative effort?
John Poliquin : Yeah, yeah, it definitely was. They were on set every day most days, actually they were on set every day but they were editing in a room. So they were involved from pre-production all the way until delivery. So it was definitely collaborative. My approach was basically I wanted to maintain the style and a lot of the vibe and what worked on the first film but bring my own style to the second film. New but familiar was really what I wanted so it felt fresh but still like a Grave Encounters movie.
Bugg: As a first time feature director whose background is in music videos, what particular challenges faced you going into this production?
John: Basically, and this isn't just about a feature but more specific to the found footage genre, that I had to-- coming from music videos which are all visuals and its all the obsessing over very specific details of the visuals, where as found footage, you kind of have to let go of a lot of the principals that I had learned and not be afraid to make something look shaky or badly framed because that in the end makes found footage feel real. And some of that are formats, I used formats that most film makers would scoff at. I basically had to let my ego down. It’s not about the film looking like a music video. It’s about telling the story in the most effective way. So that was kind of the biggest thing to tackle, but on top of that I really wanted to get into the characters and make them feel real so that a lot of research and working with the actors who were involved, and that’s something that is never really involved in music videos.
Bugg: Grave Encounters 2 begins with a meta introduction which fold’s the first film’s internet buzz into the plot. How influential do you feel that the online horror community has become in regard to the success or failure of an independent release?
John: I think the online horror community is everything these days. That’s how so many films find their success. The beginning of the film is really cool as a shout out to horror fans and especially ones who are using the internet to create, promote, and buzz about films. So I think it’s really important, and I think the script is really smart to have included those people in it.
Bugg: Both Grave Encounters films take ghost hunting shows as a jumping off point. What are your thoughts on this reality medium? And what are your feelings on the actual supernatural?
John: I really wasn't all that familiar with the ghost shows until The Vicious Brothers were making Grave Encounters 1, and I checked the out because they were referencing them all the time and telling me about them. I think they’re cool. There’s definitely an appeal that I understand. They’re fun to watch and see, but personally, I’m not really a believer. I was when I was younger, but I’ve kind of become more skeptical. Yeah, I can’t say I’m a believer.
Bugg: Grave Encounters 2 ratchets up the scares by using a combination of CGI and practical effects. Was there extra attention paid to the effects after the first film was criticized so harshly in that area?
John: I’m not sure that’s in fact why. In the first one, the special effects were primarily done by The Vicious Brothers. With the sequel, we had a post house working with us, and I do a lot of visual effects in music videos so I do take visual effects seriously and I want to make sure everything is really strong. We were definitely thinking about that, and with more money we had the ability to do some things that looked a little more higher production value.
Bugg: The Grave Encounters franchise has, for many viewers, reinvigorated the found footage style. Do you feel that as a central conceit found footage still has more to offer?
John: I think that the audience relates to found footage because it does have just a sense of reality, and it also puts-- the camera becomes a character which can be really cool if it’s used effectively. It really puts the audience in the scene as the camera. So it does have more to offer in that sense. I would say there are a lot of film purists that would disagree, and they probably aren’t fond of found footage because it doesn’t fit their purist view because it’s a lot more rougher of a genre format. But there’s a lot that goes into it, and I think you can definitely tell stories in a more creative way and let the audience experience it in a way that’s different from a conventional film.
Bugg: Grave Encounters 2 answers some of the questions left over from the first film, but what are the chances of a third in the series and is there still ripe mythology to explore?
John: There definitely is. The Vicious Brothers and I have had many talks late at night kind of just talking about , you know, what the third film could be, and we have some really great ideas. So I would say there definitely is room if people want it. It could be done, there’s room in the mythology for sure.
Bugg: And you would want to be involved in a third film?
John: I would definitely be open to it. There are many factors that would have to be involved for that to come to be, but yeah, I would be open to it because I had a lot of fun.
Bugg: So what’s coming up next for you right now? Do you have other features in the works?
John: Yeah, I’m actually in New York right now writing a script called Occupy, and it’s thriller-horror set in 2011 during the Occupy: Wall Street movement, and it follows a guy and his friends in their early twenties, and, basically, there’s a bunch of murders that happen and it’s a conspiracy. It’s a lot of fun, and that’s my next project.
Bugg: If you could only tell folks one thing about Grave Encounters 2, what would you like them to know?
John: It’s a ride. It’s a fun ride, and you know, it’s a ride. That’s it.
That brings to a close my interview with John Poliquin. I hope you folks enjoyed that special look into Grave Encounters 2 as much as I enjoyed getting it for you. If you haven't checked out the original Grave Encounters and you have Netflix, then give it a look, and if you want to see Grave Encounters 2, it' is currently on Video On Demand services and hits selected theaters on October 12th. Join me back here tomorrow as 31 in 31 continues and The Bigger & Badder Halloween Top 13 draws ever nearer!