Documenting the Grey Man Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
DVD released by Camp Motion Pictures
Directed by Wayne Capps
2011, 104 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on July 17th, 2012
Patrick Hussion as Mitch
Kelly Coulter as Lisa
Jillian Walzer as Jessica
Wayne Capps as Chad
William Covington as Larry
Lisa Morelli as Rebecca Simms
Richard Fister as Joseph Simms
Found footage films have been around for ages. Most newbies to the horror community can only think back as far as The Blair Witch Project in terms of low-budget handycam flicks. But as far back as the '80s, with classics such as Cannibal Holocaust, producers and directors have been shocking audiences' sense of what is real or fiction through the "found footage" genre. Modern movies such as [REC], Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and the upcoming V/H/S all have their own spins on a type of shaky filmmaking that will usually cause a handful of theater-goers to projectile vomit their overpriced snacks before promptly retreating. Unfortunately for Documenting the Grey Man, it missed the mark so badly with cashing in on this popular trend that I was seriously contemplating piercing my genitalia as a means for enjoyment about halfway through the film. And that's putting it softly (no pun intended).
Documenting the Grey Man focuses on a group of independent filmmakers who plan on cashing in on the tale of "The Grey Man" by posing as fake paranormal investigators. One of them even goes far enough to be a fake psychic. As far as the tale goes, the Grey Man, essentially some ghastly geriatric, haunts the coastal community of Pawley's Island, South Carolina to warn residents when a damaging storm is about to arrive. Does he actually do that? Of course not! Rather, he decides to (barely) terrorize a plantation home and the family that lives there.
Generally I'm not one to trash a low-budget production company's attempt at filmmaking, but this was rough by most standards. One of the immediate issues I had with Documenting the Grey Man was the script. I'm not one to be hypercritical of an actor's craft, especially if they're new to the business and just starting out, but in the case of this film, almost every line seemed like it was memorized just before they starting rolling the cameras. Found footage horror flicks are supposed to mimic real life situations where a camera just happens to be rolling while people's faces get torn from their skull or a gigantic alien rips apart the Manhattan skyline. Most of the scenes, especially the public testimonies at the start of the film, are also painfully rehearsed to the point where it is far from believable. Aside from the forced acting from not one individual, but the ENTIRE cast, parts of the movie feel like a poorly planned episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where all of the original cast called out sick and they hired poor college kids to fill in. There's even one utterly pointless scene where one of the camera men sneaks into their trailer to catch a topless peek at one of the others in the group. When a film attempts to take itself seriously as a genuinely scary addition to the genre, scenes like this tend to only do harm to the integrity of the story (or lack thereof in this case).
Documenting the Grey Man suffers from way too many ailments to be salvageable, even for a low-budget, independent film. An overworked plot, poor acting by all parts and the fact that there wasn't one single scare in the movie leaves the entire movie dead in the water about halfway through. The premise of a terrorizing ghost is something we as horror lovers have come to love, so there are certain things we expect from movies that portray them. Sure, making viewers wait for a big scare can be worth it, if they actually arrive and that's the kicker. So, if you accidentally stumbled upon this film late one night, when the Internet has run out of memes and the wide, vast sea of pornography has seemingly run dry, for the love of all that is right and just in the world, respectably decline watching this and take up something more lively like counting rice or reading Dante's Inferno in braille. It's time much better spent.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.