FILM REVIEW: Grave Encounters (2011)

I usually can't stand all those reality shows about ghost hunters running around trying to find a connection between the living and the dead. It's usually all the same thing. TV crew scouts a "haunted" location. TV crew investigates/attempts to rouse the paranormal. Nothing ever really happens. Except the occasional unintentional laugh.

Grave Encounters is a film that attempts to create something scary out of that premise. Does it succeed in scaring its audience? Well...almost. It certainly gives it the old college try.

If you're not already familiar with the directing team known as the Vicious Brothers...don't feel too bad. No one really does because this is their feature debut. They actually do a nice job of creating tension and pulling some realistic performances from their cast.

Grave Encounters opens with a producer explaining that what you are about to see is an episode of a prematurely defunct reality show called....well....Grave Encounters, of course. It's kinda like watching an episode of Ghost Adventures...if shit actually hit the proverbial paranormal fan. Heh...can you imagine Zak running around with soiled pants?

The cinematography is uninspiring...but, then...this is a "found footage" affair. You pretty much get all the usual trappings of that particular sub-genre. The shaky cam. The annoying night vision. And the inevitable...taking the video camera everywhere you go. In terms of creating a spook-house horror film, Grave Encounters  doesn't really offer anything you haven't seen before in other, much better, films. Your usual bathtubs filled with blood and tongue-less ceiling dwellers are all present. However, when it comes to smartly spoofing an enture sub-genre of reality television, the film excels enough to take it into good film territory.

Sean Rogerson, whom you may remember from---well, actually..I don't really know because I don't really remember him from anywhere, does a fine job of playing Lance Preston...the fearless host of Grave Encounters who mockingly locks himself and his crew in an old abandoned mental hospital that is supposedly haunted by evil spirits. Rogerson displays a decent range of acting that goes from smart-ass smirk to holy shit desperation in minutes. He's a character that you actually almost feel for if it were not for his douchery displayed earlier.

The rest of the cast does a decent job for what is asked of them...tho, I didn't much care for Sasha. She was mostly annoying.

The gore is surprisingly good in Grave Encounters as there are many moments where blood is splashed generously. There's even a funny gag involving a rat for lunch that kind of caught me off guard. I mostly enjoyed the film and thought it to be a solid debut from a group of filmmakers who we will no doubt see more of.

If you're a sucker for the Paranormal Activity films and enjoy your horror served up in a shaky found footage format...then, this will surely get your blood curdling. For the hardcore horror fan, Grave Encounters is nothing more than a fun late night experience with all the lights turned off.

Thanks for reading,