Friday, December 7, 2012

Movie Review: Grave Encounters

 I still have goose-bumps from this film.  Grave Encounters is simply awesome.  It is easily one of the BEST horror films I have seen.

 A reality-TV crew sets up to stay the night in an abandoned asylum rumored to be haunted.  The place has a history of some problems in its past, but nothing to extraordinary.  The film features the raw footage the crew shot, only edited for time.  You get to see the set-up, how jaded they are about the reality of "ghosts", and even that they are willing to pay people to lie to get a good bit of film.  The shows host, Lance, clearly wants to believe in ghosts.  He believes he saw something as a kid, and has been looking ever since, but now 6 episodes into the show and he is getting frustrated and beginning to think it is all BS.

 Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, however, has something to show Lance and his crew.

That's Lance on the Left.  He's a douche-bag.
 In many ways, this film is reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project.  It is shot from a first-person view-point and is established as found footage depicting actual events.  That is probably where the comparisons end.  I spent nearly an hour and a half wincing, waiting for the visual-sting that I expected around every corner.  The film quickly sets you on edge and then leaves you there until the credits.

 The things that really sets this film apart is the way it was shot.  Despite the wide-screen format, your field of vision is limited to the small disc of a flashlight, often in UV-green, almost the entire film.  Much of the action happens off-camera, either between shots or while the cameras are pointed away or black.  You can hear people screaming and running, but that's it.
Pro-Tip: This would be easier to read on her front.

 The creepy intensity of the film builds.  You see things moving on their own, signs of the presence of something else, well before the characters do.  You fully expect something to happen, but masterfully, the film does not fulfill that expectation in the way you expect.  The "stings" one might assume are throughout this film almost not used, with each sighting being introduced by something.  There is the flash of someone running across a hall, the sound of laughter or something approaching, sometimes even a bit of blood...

Eternity being this guy.  I'd be pissed, too.
 Because of all of this, the need for special effects is minimal.  You get to see the ghosts, eventually, but even they are freaky for only a moment, just enough to leave a terrifying after-image in your mind.  The acting was superb, and the story well-paced.  Your are in Grave Encounters for 92 minutes, and it does not let you go.

 The only downside for me is that the film is missing a book-end.  The film opens with the producer of the television show explaining that you are about to see the raw footage found from the Grave Encounters crew, and how it is real.  I would have liked a closing statement, something explaining how the film was found, how the characters are still missing, maybe even a fake FBI info shot offering a reward leading to information about the where-bouts of the missing characters.

 There's a sequel.  I just hope it can live up to this film.  See Grave Encounters, a spook-house ride unlike any which has been filmed in a long time.

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