Grave Encounters Movie Review
Written by James Ferguson
DVD released by New Video
Written and directed by The Vicious Brothers
2011, 92 Minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on October 18th, 2011
Sean Rogerson as Lance Preston
Juan Riedinger as Matt White
Ashleigh Gryzko as Sasha Parker
Mackenzie Gray as Houston Gray
Merwin Mondesir as T.C. Gibson
As is the case for everything popular, one hit will spawn a dozen copycats. Because of Saw we have tons of torture porn movies like Sweatshop. Thanks to The Ring we have a bunch of scary movies with creepy little kids. Now that Paranormal Activity is big, the imitators are rolling in. Enter Grave Encounters, a film about a reality show of the same name that follows the crew as they film their last episode. They stay in a haunted asylum and never come out again. Think Paranormal Activity mixed with The Blair Witch Project with a reality show twist and you get the idea.
This premise might seem lame on the surface, but Grave Encounters delivers. The first third of the movie is filled with laughs as the crew gets situated in the now abandoned madhouse. They talk to some locals and start to build the episode. Since we're being shown "raw footage", we get some funny behind-the-scenes shots from the show, like when the host, Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson), pays a gardener to make up something spooky for the camera. It's these offbeat scenes that lured me into a false sense of security. I thought the movie was a joke and didn't take it seriously. Then things started getting crazy.
The scares in Grave Encounters start slow and they mimic Paranormal Activity in many ways. A window slowly opens on its own. A wheelchair moves slightly. These things happen when the cameras are on, but none of the cast is nearby to witness it. It isn't until they're trying to communicate with the ghosts and Sasha's hair is moved on its own accord that things get really spooky. Doors start slamming. People go missing. There's an eerie laughter coming from all over the place.
This is just the beginning though. I don't want to go into too many details, but suffice it to say things get turned up to eleven. Grave Encounters took turns that I did not expect at all. The result is a movie that could easily be compared to the likes of Paranormal Activity, but in many cases exceeds it in the scare factor. There is one jaw-dropping scene towards the end that just gave me chills.
My only real problem with this movie was the shaky camera work. I can understand why it was done the way it was, as it is trying to recreate the reality show, but it got annoying very quickly. I can't see any serious director shooting something like that. Fortunately it didn't hurt the story too much and it's only really an issue at the beginning of the film. When things get moving, the cast are literally running with the cameras so it makes sense.
Grave Encounters is easily one of the scariest movies I've seen in the past ten years. It takes a simple and somewhat dry premise and builds on it to create a terrifying film that had me and the other people at the screening jumping. If you're tired of boring horror movies with no action, check this one out.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screening.