Grave Encounters (2011)
Directed by The Vicious Brothers
As one of Dread Central's proud paranormal-loving nuts, there is just about nothing I won't watch that has some form of ghost in it. The old DVR is filled with shows like "Destination Truth", "Haunted", "Ghost Hunters", and "Ghost Adventures." Each show (while covering the same types of material) goes about things in vastly different ways. Some go for science, others for melodrama, and of course there's your fair share of shock value associated with each. The trouble is almost all of them start and end the same way ...
But what if they end up encountering the mother lode? That's the question answered here in The Vicious Brothers' feature Grave Encounters.
Investigator and TV personality Lance Preston (Rogerson) and his team consisting of a psychic, a hot chick who loves the spooky, a camera man, and of course a tech guy spend the night inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where unexplained phenomena have been reported for years. With several cameras rolling, they hope to capture something (anything) that would make for good TV. Fans of any of the aforementioned TV shows will feel right at home with the set-up because it mimics that type of programming to perfection. Especially "Ghost Adventures" in which Zak Baggins and his two-man crew lock themselves down in a scary location until morning.
The only hitch? Preston and company are pretty much shams. They don't believe in this kind of thing, and though fascinated by it, their main objective is to shoot footage, throw in jump scares, and edit everything cleverly together so that said sites seem thoroughly haunted.
However, the permanent residents at Collingwood Psychiatric have other plans for our group. Ones that quickly turn deadly. Let's get this out of the way. This is not your typical subtle scare cinéma-vérité style flick. The spirits of this movie are vicious and not afraid to manifest themselves. Sure things start off simple enough (i.e., chairs moving, doors shutting on their own), but the haunted horrors escalate quickly from "Wow, that's kind of spooky" to "Woah!" to "Holy shit!" in a hurry. There are a couple of other really cool aspects to the story that we'll keep quiet for now that definitely serve to set this one apart from the pack, but we'll leave those details for you to discover and speculate over.
Unfortunately it's not all smooth sailing for this experience as there are a couple of bumps along the road that keep this flick from being truly great. Early on some pacing issues drag things out a bit, and there are several truly false notes hit by the actors. Yet, given that this movie isn't looking to pass itself off as "being real", those little things can be easily forgiven.
Overall Grave Encounters is an at times horrific little film that doles out more than its fair share of shivers and jolts. By the time the third act falls, this veritable spook house of horrors will have you jumping out of your seats for sure. Strap in, kids! You're in for one hell of a ride. Totally recommended.
3 1/2 out of 5