First time filmmakers, known to many as The Vicious Brothers, actually though Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz work together as writers and directors to create another found footage production, entitled Grave Encounters, neither of them brings a hack job to the genre, nor have shown their lack of skills since this movie, worked on Extraterrestrial (2014). Although, a deep sigh comes to many when watching or just encountering another found-footage film, some do come with little quirks and scares that can make them enjoyable, and herein shows false bravado, conning the audience and how the paranormal shows disgust against the bullying from loud mouth rude ghost hunters.
Needless to say, that with a found footage film, the setup usually comes from the third party and no difference here, as TV producer Jerry Hartfield (Ben Wilkinson) introduces the audience to the infamous tape and a little background, though states brief editing for time restrictions. The story opens with a budding television show crew for, Grave Encounters, with an amped-up team leader Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson); Sarah Parker (Ashleigh Gryzko), Matt White (Juan Riedinger) and the wonderful portraying of a psychic, except later learning he’s nothing but a charlatan, another actor doing a role for a paycheck Houston (Mackenzie Gray). His team places cameras at the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital (in reality Riverview Hospital in Canada) an abandoned location for fifty years and filled with haunting incidents, but the phony team lacks any details of the location, the patients, nurses and doctors remain mysteries. Most of them supposedly real ghost hunting reality base television worldwide has at least one-person gathering research, on someone to make contact with not just a bullying attack on the long-forgotten dead. His team seems to fall on two sides a positive and negative reinforcement, with Houston, primarily concerned about himself and the next paycheck. However, unlike previous encounters this time Lance demands the doors remain locked until 6am, this adds a tad shock and nervous energy to his team, by night the investigation starts and ends very quickly after a slam bam of a door and a little interaction with the crew, and mere rapidness becomes shocking to even the cursory viewer. This first portion of the movie, serves more as a false start to the film, rather an introduction to the location, a slight foreshadowing, with the movie wheelchair and team’s personalities, including the customary private face time with the cameras, and some of the technical terms including the world-famous EVP lingo. What has come fascinating in films, the explaining of everything, seems as if James Bond’s Q’s job introducing James to the latest toys all needed and used for the mission, no difference here either. By the midpoint of the movie, the ride takes off, the creepiness oozes in, which causes menacing actions, gone are the pranks, replaced with complete time vortexes and the entire building redesigning itself to benefit in the torment of the unwanted guests assuring their descent into madness and death. Their friendship fractions and the anger grows quickly, yet sadly the customary face-stretching ghosts, and endless pitch-blackness darkness, with stairs leading nowhere and frustration with everything and everyone. Needless to say, the tensions arise and falls back to calmness in rapid succession, and constant changing of the building, all become tiresome, for this movie, a thorough edginess kept at an all-time high would engulf viewers into a terrorizing fear.
As is the case with found-footage films, first created in 1970s, and accelerated with help of social media, for The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Paranormal Activity (2007) both financial powerhouse blockbusters, many try the methods but never recapture the fear, the terrorizing actions and essence of the unknowns for fearful audiences. This film at times reminds the viewers fakeness of the genre, a suggestion for future filmmakers of this sub-genre perhaps mask the base in reality portion of with a better cover story and develop more scares similar to the ghostly haunting movies as The Haunting (1963), Poltergeist (1982) and even Muirhouse (2012) but at least treat the audience with respect. After all, the films in the genre begin to blend together, in recalling from just 2007, the Godfather of the Undead, George A. Romero got into the act with his movie Diary of the Dead (2007), and then V/H/S (2012), just to name a few countless of victims, that represent a body count in a massacre film. Aside from other repeatedly scenes, and the never-ending night vision, the location appears in fine condition, not much damage for a 50-year-old building, most-filmed in the historic insane asylum location in Coquitlam, British Columbia, that closed down in 2012. The movie, sadly, uses the modest appearance of the location, always a big no-no in a horror film, allow the location or sole item to take all the hits, and use it to the fullest.
The primarily issue in the found-footage sub-genre, relates to the audience, especially the horror viewers, who know the rules and lessons, and have the tempo down to a science, therefore filmmakers need to take the time to design a stronger plot and better storytelling. For the most part the movie creates an otherworldly design a place filled with darkness, mad doctors, and crazy demonic patients, controlling the free will of the unwanted bullying guests, while twisting the minds with endless corridors of pains, fears and screams. A sequel came out a year later, but the lack of attention from viewers quieted rumors of a part 3.
This review originally published on the Rogue Cinema website in July of 2015, with 1,748 views.
IMDb Rating: 6.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.5/10