DVD Review: Grave Encounters / Cert: 15 / Director: The Vicious Brothers / Screenplay: The Vicious Brothers / Starring: Sean Rogerson, Juan Riedinger, Ashleigh Gryzko, Mackenzie Gray, Merwin Mondesir / Release Date: Out Now
Grave Encounters starts the way many of these things do, a talking head producer informs us that what we are about to see is edited down from about 76 hours of footage and is exactly as they found it. We then find ourselves in the company of a fast talking TV show host who is the producer and presenter for a show called ‘Grave Encounters’ and they are filming episode 7. They are about to spend the night in the supposedly haunted Collinwood Home for the Mentally Ill, which has been derelict for many years. It’s like any episode of Most Haunted except, y’know… more American.
The team set up static cameras equipped with night vision and also carry around handheld rigs hoping to catch a glimpse of something sinister in the night. The first forty five minutes or so are familiar to anyone who has seen Paranormal Activity or the aforementioned Most Haunted; things go bump, strange noises are heard and a member of the crew’s hair gets played with. For those who complain that the Paranormal Activity films don’t show you enough, things get weird, really weird and you get a real sense of payoff as events unfold.
Around the middle of the second act things get interesting as there is a sudden shift from the norm of your typical found footage horror as we learn that 6am has come and gone and the team cannot get out the way they came in. The building seemingly doesn’t want them to leave and at every exit they are just presented with more corridors. Eventually the evil presence makes its horrifying debut and people are screaming, getting sick, disappearing and slowly going insane.
Grave Encounters may divide people more used to the subtler tones typical of this sub-genre. After the first forty five minutes the whole ‘is there anybody there’ thing is thrown out the window as ghouls emerge from the shadows and attack our crew. The actors all do a great job starting off as cocky sceptics looking for an easy sound bite, going on to being slightly alarmed, to eventual full blind insanity inducing panic. Most Haunted was never this good...
For a straight to DVD found footage film (and there has been a deluge lately) Grave Encounters is very enjoyable and had us jumping out of our seats through much of it. It's surprising this hasn’t gotten a cinema release because word of mouth would probably make it a hit. It’s the ultimate party movie, best enjoyed with a bunch of mates and the lights off. It does stumble slightly with an ending that owes a little too much to a recent Spanish language found footage film, but it's still a whole heap of scary fun.
Extras: Behind the Scenes featurette / Trailer