Thursday, October 9, 2014

Film Review: Grave Encounters (2011)

Grave Encounters (Review)
Canada/United States/2011
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"Good for fans of the genre, especially the setting like myself..."
A paranormal investigation crew, led by host Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson), lock themselves in a supposedly haunted psychiatric hospital to shoot the sixth episode of their show, Grave Encounters, which turns out to be their last...

Grave Encounters is a found-footage film presented as real footage. (It's obviously not, but it wants to build that facade.) Anyway, it plays out as edited footage of the final episode of the show. So, we see Lance and the crew doing different takes of their scenes or messing around behind-the-scenes. I thought this segment was fun, it poked fun at the many paranormal investigation shows on TV and built up a decent plot. They eventually lock themselves in the hospital and start shooting the episode. Well, the hospital turns out to be actually haunted, and they find themselves trapped in an ever-changing environment. The ending was good -- not exactly surprising or exceptional, but good.

I loved the concept behind Grave Encounters, and simply liked the execution. The story and its sort-of spoof of television is great; it came off as surprisingly creative. The found-footage style works well with the plot of the film, and actually benefits some of the scares. As for the horror, the suspense was light, sometime it was even nonexistent. There are many jump-scares, I think two or three actually made me jump. The visual scares really come in towards the final 30 minutes. It's not really a very scary film, though, especially considering the weak presence of suspense and the weak jump-scares. But, at least the setting was great; I'd love to visit an abandoned hospital like this, it really is eerie and ominous.

Sean Rogerson does well as the lead -- he nails that douchey TV host persona and has some lively energy. Ashleigh Gryzko, however, really feels out of place; she's tolerable for the first half, but then her overacting becomes overwhelming; it was actually humorously bad at times, and she just doesn't really seem believable. Otherwise, the acting is just barely decent from the rest of the cast. Except for the introduction, most of the film is shot in the dark; it is hard to see what you're supposed to see, and the night vision becomes overwhelming, too. I liked some of the visual effects. The Vicious Brothers craft a decent mockumentary and capture the setting well, but the film is somewhat lacking in the horror department.

Overall, Grave Encounters is a good found-footage horror film. The story is interesting, the setting is great, and there are some decent jump-scares and visuals. But, the acting is too mediocre to feel even remotely realistic, there is a lack of horror and suspense, and the story occasionally feels uneventful. Good for fans of the genre, especially the setting like myself, and for horror fans looking to kill a night.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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