Indie Flix: Grave Encounters (2011)

I would caution anyone who is considering watching GRAVE ENCOUNTERS to make sure that they are either fans of the paranormal hunter type shows or are at least familiar enough with them to pick out the conventions the shows use.  Otherwise the flick is going to come across as real shitty real fast.  This thing comes with some major hype and after drawing the viewer into it it delivers on the scares.

Heh.  I love how the first intro that shows the intro to the reality show “Grave Encounters” is a total rip off of “Paranormal State” even to the point that Lance Preston’s back story is the same as the host of Paranormal State.  The team includes Lance, Matt the “tech guy” and Sasha the “occult specialist”.  They even use the idea of “dead time”.  

Your team of stereotypes.

The crew of “Grave Encounters” sets up a series of cameras and go into the Collingwood Asylum.  The film is shot in the cinema veritae style but after the intro by the show’s producer it goes into the more familiar documentary in progress shooting style.  Down to the lame ass cleaning of the lens.  The first look at the asylum leaves a lot to be desired.  It is in a fairly crowded residential area and the foyer is extremely well lit with natural light from the windows.

The echo cold spot has rejuvenated into…blah…blah..

Lance provides some great cheese by staring at the camera and saying things such as “an obvious paranormal hotspot” and “very creepy” shit like that.  He also uses overly grandiose hand gestures and speaks with melodramatic emphasis.  Especially the part where he asks an interviewee if it was more of a residual haunting or intelligent haunting.  When the interview subject gets a look that says “what the fuck did you say?” Ryan, or Lance rather turns to the camera and explains the difference between the two.  The night vision green of the cameras adds a real creep factor to the flick. 

All of the interviews turn up nothing that seems paranormal.  Then later he pays off a groundskeeper to say he had worked there for ten years and what all he has seen.  Actually the guy just started working there and never saw anything.

If you thought the flick couldn’t get campier they bring in the show’s fake resident “psychic” who begins giving a reading without being prepped on the site.  Fun stuff.  The psychic then cackles asking if it was “too much”.  Surprise! The big twist is that the crew of “Grave Encounters” are actually skeptics and charlatans… They are just out to try and film a few “scares”. 

Excuse me…what?

When things do start happening the movie really takes off and our faux filmmakers start to seriously lose their shit in spectacular fashion.  The fake psychic is scared shitless (which is quite humorous) and Lance convinces him to stay in character.   On the way back to “base” the gang gets lost. At 6 am the caretaker is a no show.  The camera man loses it and starts to smash open the front doors with a gurney.  Two things come to mind here.  One it is ostensibly 7 am and it is still dark.  Two they bust down the door and it leads to another hallway.  The doors they go through are the same doors that they came in through but instead of leading outside it is now a new hallway.  

This thing goes all House of Leaves and brings to mind the unfortunate flick YELLOWBRICKROAD which I previously reviewed.  The characters are at each others’ throats and roam the asylum for a few days.  

What the fuck?

Holy shit this thing delivers on the scares.  This thing gave me goosebumps for the entire third act.  As things get more and more frenetic there are more digital distortions from the cameras.  The darkness and the endless twisting hallways all really help GRAVE ENCOUNTERS come across as having a much larger budget than it did.   

The end is predictable but the movie delivers consistently through out so it is easy to forgive.  There could have been a producer outdo as well but overall very small faults in a fairly solid and entertaining haunted house story! Check it out!

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