A Movie Review on Grave Encounters (2011)
Found-footage movies are usually hit and miss, with movies like Paranormal Activity, Chronicle, and REC receiving high praise, while movies like Apollo 18, The Devil Inside, and REC 3 receiving little to no praise at all. I wasn't even able to make it all the way through The Devil Inside before I completely gave up on that film. Grave Encounters, while not nearly as scary as Paranormal Activity, is still able to provide a decent amount of scares while keeping its head above water. It falls somewhere in between mediocre and good.
The movie follows the production crew of a reality TV show called "Grave Encounters" who set out to film their 6th episode of the show. They decide to focus this episode on Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, a place known for its paranormal activity. The production crew, along with all the equipment they would need, lock themselves in hospital for the night to hopefully experience the paranormal phenomenon that's been occurring there. They set up cameras all across the hospital where they believe there will be the highest probability of paranormal activity occurring, hoping to catch some/all of it on film. As the night wears on, strange things begin to occur, and it becomes obvious that the hospital does not want them to leave alive. The production crew must now fight for their lives as they try to escape from Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital.
The premise is nothing special, nor anything that original, but it does its job at setting up the film, and the situation these people are in. Hospitals are scary enough, while psychiatric hospitals can set the stage for almost anything horror related. Add in a bit of a creepy history, the fact that its abandoned, and that it has absolutely no electricity and you have the setting for a potentially good horror film. The movie has it fair share of ups and downs, and at points excels beyond the typical horror film, but at other times falls into the same pitfalls as these horror films.
First and foremost, watch this movie in the dark, with the volume all the way up. Trust me, it makes a clear difference. The set up for this film dragged on a bit longer than I had hoped, providing a couple of scares on its way through the first hour of the film. There is a lot of setting up equipment, walking around the hospital as a group, and setting up potential areas of paranormal activity. It's a little long in the tooth, but it's worth the wait. The scares don't begin their onslaught until the final 20 minutes of the movie, but there are a lot of them. The suspense, and creepiness of what is occurring will have your heart racing. If you can, don't watch any of the trailers for the film, for they will spoil some of the fun. While it's not the scariest movie ever made, its definitely one that will creep you the <bleep> out.
The acting is generally great half of the time, while the other half is purposefully terrible. I'll explain. When the characters in the movie are speaking on film for their television show, their acting is absolutely atrocious, and quite annoying at times. When the characters in the movie are no longer in character for their TV show the acting is great. I guess this just shows how talented these actors are, that they are able to do a great job within the film but when it comes time for their "TV show", they known just how to over act. You'll learn to love them and hate them all at the same time. When the **** hits the fan, and they have the completely drop the television show act, you'll be surprised at how realistic the acting becomes. Kudos to them.
This is a great horror film, that will easily go down as a cult classic among horror nerds. It's well made, well acted and genuinely scary. It's nothing you haven't seen before in other ghost stories and paranormal horror movies, but Grave Encounters knew what it was doing from the start and does it successfully. While the first hour or so is slow, it does build up plenty of suspense before it unloads the scares during the last act of the movie. It's well worth a viewing.
Grave Encounters was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 18th 2011.
Directed by The Vicious Brothers (Collin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz)
Starring Sean Rogerson, Ashleigh Gryzko, Juan Riedinger, Merwin Mondesir, and Mackenzie Grey.
Rated R. Runtime: 95 Minutes