Prank Encounters season 2 review – another round of homemade horrors surprise, surprise

April 2, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Reviews
2

Summary

Prank Encounters season 2 delivers more pranks, mostly for the same audience as the first season. It’s a tired concept but it has its charms.

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2

Summary

Prank Encounters season 2 delivers more pranks, mostly for the same audience as the first season. It’s a tired concept but it has its charms.

This review of Prank Encounters Season 2 is spoiler-free.


When Prank Encounters first debuted in 2019, it was met with a fair amount of controversy. It’s to be expected — after all, is there anything these days that isn’t exploitative or offensive in the eyes of social media’s dedicated complainers? The specific backlash against this show, which takes a hidden-camera premise pioneered by MTV’s Punk’d but spices it up with Netflix’s bottomless pockets and the name appeal of Stranger Things‘ Gaten Matarazzo, was that its “marks”, so to speak, were two strangers who thought they were starting a new job. Before they knew it, they were embroiled in an elaborately orchestrated horror-movie setup brought to life.

This format has remained unchanged since those halcyon days of the early 2000s and has endured a fair amount of dilution by dorks on YouTube realizing they could replicate it without any of the production. Prank Encounters is kind of an answer to that — look what can be achieved when you do it properly! — but it never really differentiated itself from the originator and it still doesn’t now, in the second go-around of horror-themed scenarios ranging from demonic rituals to recently-defrosted cavewomen.

The success of each prank — there are seven episodes in the season, ranging from 20-25 minutes — is more dependent on the human reactions rather than the gimmick itself, giving the whole affair a scattershot quality. Since nobody can really predict how someone will react until they’re in the situation, you can’t really tell if an elaborate ploy is going to pay off until it’s too late to do anything about it. But there’s enough screaming and shouting to get the desired effect more often than not, which is all anyone who’s into this type of thing is looking for. There’s nothing about Prank Encounters Season 2 that really justifies the revival of such a well-worn premise, but if you’re itching for a bigger, better version of a YouTube show, then I guess this will suffice.

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