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The Vicious Brothers Return to the Asylum for "Grave Encounters 2"

“Grave Encounters” fans, rejoice! The Vicious Brothers are back with a terrifying sequel to their 2011 hit guaranteed to frighten even the staunchest of horror lovers. The subversive duo weigh in on ghosts, the film vs. digital debate, and a possible trilogy. Now available on VOD!

Return to the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital for another round of scares with Grave Encounters 2! The Vicious BrothersColin and Stuart—head back to the asylum nine years after the events of the original Grave Encounters. In this innovative sequel, struggling film student Alex Wright (Richard Harmon) decides to research the original film only to discover that its cast has mysteriously vanished and that no one is willing to talk about it.

The plot thickens as Alex receives a strange message from an unknown blogger, who goes by the handle of “DeathAwaits666,” together with footage that shows lead actor Sean Rogerson (who plays the doomed Lance Preston in the first feature) still alive. Setting out to prove that the first film was real, Alex and his friends venture into the asylum to meet the blogger, determined to avoid the pitfalls encountered by the actors in the first film. Much to their horror, they too are quickly trying to outsmart the asylum and escape with their lives.

To add to the layers of eeriness, we must report that something odd happened when we first interviewed The Vicious Brothers. Due to circumstances (or forces) beyond our control, our Flipcam mysteriously froze, leaving the interview file in an inaccessible limbo. What you are now reading is our second attempt at the interview, which maybe you were intended to read in the first place (or not). Here’s what The Vicious Brothers had to say about this mysterious occurrence, working with director John Poliquin, and whether or not a romantic comedy lurks in their future.

Tribeca: Well, hello again.

Colin: Hello! [laughs] Now you’re not going to believe this, but when Stu and I went to make the behind-the-scenes interview for the Grave Encounters DVD, we went to our old office building that we had just moved out of before we shot the movie. One of our camera guys still had an office, there so we decided to film in there.

After the first question was asked, Stu stopped in the middle of his response, looked out the window, and noticed that the building was on fire! Oddly enough, the first question was, “Do you believe in ghosts?” I shit you not. We ran out of the building, pulled the fire alarm, and continued the interview in a room billowing with black smoke with the sound of windows shattering elsewhere... The building is just derelict now, and we are convinced that, because we exploited the ghosts of the mental hospital, they are just fucking with us.

Tribeca: To add to your paranoia, I have to tell you that the Flipcam never failed us before our interview with you. The file wouldn’t show up on the computer, and we could not view it on the camera. Our tech team was able to get the file off the camera, but it was corrupted and unable to be viewed.

Colin: Well, I know what my personal beliefs are.

Tribeca: When did you first know that you needed to go back to the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital?

Stu: We wanted to make the second film because there was a demand for it, and we wanted to do something that was interesting. Tribeca Film gave us carte blanche, so we had the freedom to go buck wild and make whatever crazy, weird idea came to our heads. That was great. We could push the limit and make something that people haven’t seen before.

Tribeca: You both directed the first Grave Encounters, but for the sequel, John Poliquin directed. How did he come into the picture?

Colin: JP is an awesome visionary director out of Canada. Stu and I had always wanted to work with him in that capacity. Oddly enough, he actually came to visit the first Grave Encounters set. When we were writing the script, we weren’t really sure if we were going to direct the sequel. Stu and I were in development on another project as well, and we got spread a little thin. We started to interview people, and JP was the one who understood what we wanted to do. He knew he could bring some of himself to the project while keeping the world that we had created in the first film intact. It was an interesting experience for us to produce, write and edit without directing the film.

Tribeca: The mythology behind the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital is thoroughly explored in the sequel. How did you come up with the Asylum’s back-story?

Stu: The back-story is really more apparent in the first movie in terms of the history of the building. I think the second movie is more about how the building is haunted as fuck. What we really wanted to do in the second movie is to make the asylum a character with an agenda. In the first movie, the audience learns about the nature of the building and that it’s haunted. In Grave Encounters 2, the building is still haunted but now has desires and needs of its own.

Sean Rogerson in Grave Encounters 1/ Credit: Tribeca Film

Tribeca: It was nice to see Sean Rogerson back from GE1, albeit in a different capacity. Was he game to return to the character? What was it like to work with him again?

Colin: Sean is just a fantastic talent. He was such a pleasure to work with on the first film, and it just made sense for the last man standing to come back. We knew we could bring him back in a way that would be interesting for us, but also for him. Sean’s embodying the same character, but he’s so dramatically different.

Before we had even gotten the official green light for financing Grave Encounters 2, Stu and I were having some drinks with Sean and we told him that his character would be in the second movie. Because it was 99% going to happen, we needed him to start losing weight right away. So he did! He committed to basically fasting for a month before the movie was totally a go, based on one conversation. His performance is a testament to his commitment to the craft.

Tribeca: What was your process for finding the rest of the cast for Grave Encounters 2? Did you go through the traditional channels?

Stu: It was pretty much the same process that we went through when we found Sean Rogerson for the role of Lance from the first Grave Encounters. Obviously, the biggest challenge is the lead character.

Colin: It was easier this time around, right?

Stu: Yeah, we’d seen a few kids and no one was perfect, because the role of Alex Wright is so difficult. The person has to be a believably dorky film geek, but then also has to transition to this really dark place. When we saw Richard Harmon’s tape, he was just so good. He’s only 21 or 22 years old too. There’s a lot going on in that kid’s head. Of the cast, Sean and Richard bonded the most, I think. Their heads were in the same place.

Colin: That’s not to take away anything from the more minor characters in the film. Leanne Lapp, who plays Jennifer, was a discovery. I’d actually cast her five years ago in a small part in a music video. I didn’t even recognize her at first. It’s exciting to discover a new talent like her and to be the person to provide her first richly deserved lead role.

Tribeca: Not to give anything away, but Grave Encounters 2 employs many more special effects and CGI than Grave Encounters. What was the ratio between CGI and real prosthetics and effects?

Stu: I think approaching any given material, either as a director or a writer, you want to capture as much as you can on camera. One of the things we decided early on with JP was that we wanted to do a combination of prosthetics and special effects with our demon character. At the end of the day, it was a 50/50 blend. You can’t light a guy on fire in post-production. It’s not going look real. You have to do it on the day you film. You have to get a stuntman, light him up and shoot it really quickly before it gets too hot. There are certain things that can be done practically, and there are things that work best in combination with visual effects.

You just don’t want the audience thinking about visual effects when they should be focusing on the story. The best special effects shots for us are the ones that go unnoticed.

Tribeca: Are you guys interested in exploring different genres as a duo?

Colin: For right now, no. Stu and I have several other horror movies in development that we are hoping to get off the ground. One of them is a found-footage horror film; the other is a sci-fi/alien abduction film that we are really close to getting the green light for. It’s called The Visitors, and it’s a traditional, cinematic thing. It’s easy for a director to get pigeon-holed into horror and, as of now, Stu and I are perfectly comfortable with that. I mean, look at our handle: we’re the Vicious Brothers. Can you see us making a romantic comedy anytime soon?

Tribeca: No, I can’t. With Side by Side now on VOD, the debate between digital and film is really heating up in Hollywood. Which side of the argument do you fall on?

Colin: In today’s landscape, unless you’re shooting a $25 million dollar movie, it would be a really uphill battle for you to try to shoot on 35mm. You just can’t justify the cost. There are a lot of old-school guys who just love the look of celluloid—film just looks better, there’s no denying it. I’ve shot on 35mm a million times, and it has stronger latitude than the Red camera or anything like that.

The bottom line is this: to the average audience member, it doesn’t matter. David Fincher movies are shot digitally now, and they look phenomenal. Our film isn’t a film that we are trying to make look like a big Hollywood production. We’re intentionally stripping all that shit away. We convinced JP to shoot the first act of the movie on a cell phone.

As far as digital versus film goes, it’s just a medium. What ultimately matters is how you tell the story. Ultimately, what matters is characters, what matters is story, and the audience could care less about what camera you’re shooting on. It’s just a tool. How is it different from a hammer?

Tribeca: So if the call comes, do you have a plan for Grave Encounters 3?

Stu: We absolutely do. We’ve already started talking about ideas, and we’ve already landed on something that we think is pretty cool and crazy. If we have the opportunity to do it, we’d totally be into it. We’d love to make the series into an awesome memorable trilogy.

Grave Encounters 2 is NOW available on iTunes, Amazon and Cable VOD nationwide!

Also playing late-night screenings select theaters nationwide:
New York, NY: Village East Cinema – October 12 (Fri 10/12 & Sat 10/13: midnight)
Baltimore, MD: Charles Theater – October 12 (Fri 10/12 & Sat 10/13)
Phoenix, AZ: Valley Art – October 12 (Fri 10/12 & Sat 10/13)
Denver, CA: Denver Film Center – October 12 (Fri 10/12 & Sat 10/13)
San Diego, CA: Gaslamp 15 – October 12 (Fri 10/12 & Sat 10/13)
Columbus OH: Gateway – November 30
Note: Don't see your city listed? Go to today to set up a theatrical screening in your area!

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