The Fear Footage 2 is completely unexpected. The first installment was set up as a found footage anthology, something along the lines of the V/H/S franchise. I expected more of the same with the sequel, but this movie can’t be further in execution from its predecessor.
The film begins with Daniel, who was a character in the first film. Daniel’s short didn’t exactly end well for him, so at first, I wasn’t sure what I had missed. But it turns out that Daniel has found a mysterious videotape – a tape that features him being overtaken by a supernatural force. Suddenly, what was expected to be an anthology film becomes something unique: a film, within a film, being investigated by a character in both films.
The first half of the movie feels a bit stilted; the acting is wooden. The dialogue doesn’t really feel like it is natural to the character. When Daniel is talking in the first half of the movie, it feels like the actor is just reading the script. It doesn’t feel as if he truly believes what he is saying, or is making any attempt to get into character. This was problematic as Daniel’s character is the introduction to the film. It fails to build the tension right off the bat that its predecessor does.
However, the movie hits its creative stride in the second act. Having met up with James, another guy in the film watched by Deputy Leo Cole, the pair set out to find out how they could have appeared on a movie that they never filmed, doing things that they have never done. They hit the road and head to Dark Bluff. The tiny town is full of local gossip, and a lot of confusion, but no solid information on where the tape could have come from, or what really happened to Deputy Leo Cole.
They two men stay in a cabin that is also reported to have had a horrific incident happen in it. The fact that it is in the middle of nowhere is creepy enough without the history, and it isn’t long before strange events begin to happen.
The isolation of these characters who are more or less strangers is where the movie shines. The build up to the climax is nail-biting; after all, neither of them really knows the other, and it makes for some really great character building. James and Daniel don’t see eye to eye on what to do. James is scared, and Daniel is obsessed. This is a deadly combo in any horror movie, and it really ups the ante in the second half of the movie.
The evening shots in the cabin are where the film delivers some of its best scares. The building is windows all the way around; while you have complete visibility to see what’s coming, you also have nowhere to hide. The pitch black of the woods works well here to build some seriously creepy scares. Minimalist props are used to great effect, and sweeping camera shots provide an excellent route to some stellar jump scares. And you KNOW as soon as they see a pool on the way in that they’re going to see some wet ghosts. Keeping it simple on a low budget is always the way to go, and director Ricky Umberger has definitely embraced that.
While it got off to a rocky start, the concept of this found footage that just skims the surface of full-blown meta had me wanting more. I’m already looking forward to a third just to see where this creative team could take it. ‘The Fear Footage 2: Curse of the Tape’ is an ideal sequel: it keeps the spirit of the original while delivering something new and fresh. Overall, I enjoyed this one more than the first, which is a rare feat for a sequel.