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#46. Grave Encounters - Review 

Grave Encounters (2011) posterDepending on the intentions of everyone involved, Grave Encounters was either the funniest film made this past year, or by far one of its worst. With the first half devoted to spoofing the paranormal-investigation shows that seemed to pop up on channels like SyFy after Paranormal Activity came out in 2009, Grave Encounters solidly apes the shallow premise and sheer ridiculousness of the genre. However, once the film starts going for scares it is obvious the directors’ eyes are bigger than their budget.

Taking advantage of the über-creepy asylum employed in the pitch-perfect film Session 9, Grave Encounters is yet another failed entry into the bloated “found footage” genre. For the sixth episode of their television series “Grave Encounters,” the crew pledges to spend the night inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, a location ripe with ghostly promise. Immediately the film’s tone is a flippant mess. Throughout the first act I was left confused, unable to determine if this was a genuine horror film or a silly satire lampooning shows like Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State, and Ghost Adventures. Host Lance Preston did not help matters, conducting himself with an overwrought earnestness that unintentionally left me in hysterics. Breaking character, cracking jokes about ghosts and their jobs, and even paying a gardener to lie and say he has witnessed first hand the spectral tenants of the hospital, I was enjoying my time with the Grave Encounters team, but I had the feeling they were not in on the joke.











Lance and company have themselves locked inside the run-down asylum, with the quirky caretaker Kenny promising to let them out in the morning. Quickly the film devolves from so-bad-its-good territory to just plain bad. The pacing is excruciatingly slow, forcing us to watch as Lance and the others wander through the hallways Collingwood, hoping to score a shot creepy enough to edit into the final episode. No one actually believes they are going to see anything extraordinary. Even their resident “expert” Houston Gray breaks after every take into laughter because of how absurd their actions truly are. Until of course they start getting the feeling something or someone might be with them inside the hospital!

Windows open, hair gets teased, Houston gets choke-slammed by the invisible ghost of Andre the Giant; the residents of Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital hate basic cable schlock even more than I do. Thankfully, it is at this point in the film directors the Vicious Brothers (I shit you not that is their actual name) employ all of the tricks available in iMovie to deliver some of the most hilariously ineffective scares since The Happening. You know the Internet meme where you trick someone into staring at a computer screen long enough to let their guard down and then a screaming ghost pops up and scares the shit out of them? Well, I am pretty sure the Vicious Brothers (I can’t even type it without rolling my eyes) just copied the face from that silly gag and pasted it on top of every single ghost the crew comes into contact with throughout the night. Ironically, the meme is far more effective than what you see in Grave Encounters; ultimately making you realize this film cannot even compete with spam mail.

With yet another solid premise squandered by overacting and misdirection, Grave Encounters is just one more nail on the coffin of the found footage genre. Filled with unlikable, stereotypical characters spewing vapid, inane dialogue, this film fails at what made Paranormal Activity 2 so good, which is giving us a single person we could care about and relate to. By the end you are rooting for the ghosts because no one, not even the apparitions of a dilapidated insane asylum, deserve to be locked in a building with the crew of Grave Encounters

If you were able to sit through all of Grave Encounters let me know what you thought in the comments section. Is it just plain bad, or does achieve so-bad-its-good status? Please link the site by clicking the "share" button below.

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Reader Comments (1)

I got to sit through both GE films, they were pretty good, but the first one was better. I loved Mackenzie Gray's acting, even though his role was unsatisfyingly minor. His character was one of the things that made the first film enjoyable. Also, the ghosts in the first film were creative. The ending was a bit lame, but they fixed it in the sequel (even though things became much less mysterious in it, which is bad). I liked the sillyness of what was happening and the atmosphere was nice - I watched the films with my friend and had a good laugh (some jump scares made us flinch, but overall it wasn't a scary experience - just a couple of fun films to watch and a character to fangirl over). I got what I wanted from them - a boost of inspiration to draw some cute horror stuff. I wasn't in for an artistic experience - I have David Lynch for it, so I expected nothing more than some visuals and wasn't disappointed. That's probably the reason I liked both films. I must admit, I do not have a particularly good taste in film - I liked "The Cell" of all things. Guess I'm not made for reviewing films. I'm mediocre and not very picky when it comes to films. Your review is fun, I liked it, even though I disagree about the characters - I found some ot them appealing, for example Houston and T.C. I agree about the scares, though - screamers on the Internet are far more effective.
Sorry for my bad English - it's not my mother tongue, and I'm still at school.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate Z.

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