Monday, November 21, 2011

Grave Encounters

(2011) ***1/2

Lance Preston and company are the stars of a ghost-hunting reality television show called “Grave Encounters”. Lance does not really believe in his subject matter, which is evident whenever they stop filming the show, but the program is apparently a marginal hit with 5 episodes already aired. For episode 6 Lance sets his sights on the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, an enormous, sprawling dwelling where unexplained activity has been reported for years. In order to further sensationalize the dark subject matter Lance and crew agree to allow themselves to be locked in the asylum over night with only the light of their cameras and flashlights to guide them as they explore.

For a while little happens and Lance determines that they have enough footage to edit into something spooky for the audience. However, strange things begin occurring including a distortion of space and time where their watches suggest that they have been in the dwelling for days and no matter which direction they walk, they never find an ending or exit. Staircases seem to shift and go nowhere and at times they seem to be walking in circles, making the blueprints Lance brought along useless. This proves to be the least of their worries once angry specters begin to plague them and their battery power grows low. Grave Encounters is the “raw” footage of episode 6 reluctantly provided by the show’s former producer.

Yowzers! 2011 will be recalled as the year when the “found footage” genre really exploded. Grave Encounters is formulaic and follows a now familiar, yet effective, formula more or less. The setting is fantastic and is reminiscent of the creepy, abandoned Ladd School (1907-1994) here in Rhode Island where people were apparently abused.

The Ladd School

Grave Encounters pokes fun at all those reality ghost-hunting shows I can’t believe exist. The film is a good example of what people who follow those silly shows probably hope to see. There is little here that found footage fans haven’t seen before but if you get spooked out by this genre as I do you won’t be disappointed. I have concluded that the best way to watch found footage films is late at night, alone.


Catfreeek said...

This sounds really good, the pictures are great. You've really unearthed some good stuff this year.

Octopunk said...

Good Christ, is there like some zoning law that requires mental hospitals to remain abandoned for decades after their closure?

That first picture actually sells this pretty damn well, but I have to laugh at the plot elements because they seem like they were picked from a column of horror go-tos. "Locked in overnight," "abandoned psychiatric hospital," "video footage," etc.

JPX, I'm so glad you unearthed so many of these this year, both for the depth of our archive and because you enjoy them so much.

I realized that all of my shaky-cam-based trepidation with ffooties (I'm just going to use that and see if it sticks) comes from Blair Witch and only Blair Witch. I will go into this at greater length in one of my upcoming reviews (which rhymes with Pole Punter).

Anonymous said...

this was filmed in riverview mental hospital that was closed in the early 90's and let me tell you that place was horrible when it was open. My uncle was abused there when he was a patient there. i will never venture onto its grounds ever again.