Greystone Park (2012)
Directed by Sean Stone
On some level everyone is afraid of the dark. You might deny it, but the next time you walk alone into a dark room, pay attention to how quickly you reach for the light switch. As you walk to the light, you take notice of everything around you, the shadows creeping up the walls in the moonlight and the looming feeling, no matter how irrational, that something is behind you. Such is the level of fear Sean Stone attempts to instill in viewers with his found footage thriller Greystone Park.
Based on real events the filmmakers experienced when exploring the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, the film opens with Sean Stone, son of acclaimed filmmaker Oliver Stone, participating in a discussion on the paranormal with family and friends. Oliver tells a story of Crazy Kate, a malevolent spirit with glowing green eyes he claims to have seen when he was younger, while his friend Alex tells of Greystone Park, an asylum he claims to be rife with paranormal activity. Intrigued, Sean joins Alex and a young woman named Antonella in exploring the institution to prove Alex’s claims. One of these claims is Billy Lasher, a former Greystone inmate whom he believes still haunts its halls. As the group explores the asylum, Alex’s obsession takes over the investigation as things begin to go bump in the night.
Found footage as a whole has become stagnant, and Greystone Park makes no real attempt to break the mold and distinguish itself as something other than more of the same. While Stone does try to blend faux-doc with traditional found footage, the end result is little more than a haphazard attempt to blend personal experiences with narrative fiction. Things get tense as the three explore the institution, but fear gives way to annoyance due to a number of poorly lit scenes, typical handi-cam shakiness, and a score (yes, a score) blending together with the ambient noise to confuse the audience. Are they hearing what we’re hearing, or is it little more than an audio sting designed to frighten the viewer? It results in too much confusion, made all the more unbearable by sudden cuts to seemingly separate cameras that don’t service the already thin story.
Complaints aside, there are parts in the film that are genuinely scary, but only if watched in the appropriate situation. It’s meant to be viewed alone and in the dark, with headphones that allow you to discern sounds that might otherwise go unnoticed or blended into the intriguing but highly unnecessary score. One can argue that the score has its place, given Stone’s attempt at making it more of a faux-doc than a straight found footage film, but given the situation, the fear is actually lessened by a crescendo of sounds designed to alert the viewer that something scary is about to happen.
There’s no rhyme or reason to what they do, with their exploration being comprised of little more than sporadic scenes of shadowy figures and supernatural mumbo jumbo that culminates in a near nonsensical ending that only serves to justify Oliver Stone’s appearance in the film. It’s a broken experiment, burdened by an overdone setup and made worse by poor direction and a story that is never fully realized. Not even pedigree can save Greystone Park, and that’s really all it has going for it.
1 1/2 out of 5