Monday, September 9, 2013

Grave Encounters (2011)

If there is one thing I do like to indulge in when I’m watching the boob tube, it’s paranormal television programming. I like to sit back and watch shows like Ghost Hunters or Discovery Channel’s “A Haunting”. The paranormal researching programming has gotten pretty popular and to be honest most of them are pretty hokey (i.e. Ghost Adventures) but they are entertaining nonetheless. 

I saw the trailer for this a few years back when it came out and figured I would catch it at some point and well thanks to Netflix, in which I am newly subscribed to, I took the time to sit down and see if this “found footage” horror film was any good.
Welcome to the last day of my life!

Grave Encounters is about a paranormal television program whose five person crew are locked up for the night inside a supposedly haunted abandoned mental hospital. A good portion of the film is spent presenting the characters doing what they do and that is filming footage just like you would see on any paranormal reality show. They interview a couple of “eye witnesses” who claim to have seen and/or heard some pretty mysterious things on the premises. To really make this episode special the host, Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) has himself and the crew locked in for the night. The caretaker, who recounts his own strange encounters at the site, chains the door shut so they cannot exit until morning when he comes to unlock the doors. These doors by the way have been graphitized with the words “Death Awaits”. Certainly a bad omen!
The mental hospital has it’s own background which is revealed in the early stages of the film. Apparently the hospital was run by a Dr. Arthur Friedken (a nod to The Exorcist perhaps?) who performed lobotomies and some rather nasty experiments on the patients. He was eventually killed by some of the patients who escaped their confines. With this bit of history the crew is locked in for the night. They set up several static cameras to catch any paranormal activity and four of the team members set out into the hospital. The team is led by Lance and fleshed out with “Occult Specialist” Sasha, Tech Expert Matt, Camera Operator T.C. and a guest star Houston Grey who is a “Psychic Medium”. 
Gwar would be proud!

The team winds its way through the corridors and empty rooms and have a couple of odd encounters. They decide it is enough to make the next episode and return to the front lobby to wait for the caretaker. They begin to pack things up and Matt is sent to retrieve cameras and equipment. He soon goes missing and the team goes looking for him. Soon they begin to experience more powerful hauntings and return to the lobby to break out of the place. The front doors turn out to not lead to the outside world but to another series of corridors.  Lance takes notice that it is still dark outside and realizes that his cell phone read 1PM. They find their food is rotten as well as if they have been trapped inside the hospital for quite a long time.
Open mouth kiss? thanks.
The spirits make themselves known for violently as the night/day wears on. Objects begin to move by themselves and Sasha is attacked while sleeping, her back becoming a grisly welcome sign from beyond. One by one the team members are picked off by the unseen forces within the confines of the hospital. Several spirits manifest psychically and one looking like an eyeless and tongue less demon. By the end of the film only Lance is left and he finds the source of the evil within the walls of the hospital in the dark recesses of the basement. Here he finds the operating room of Friedkin which still has plenty of surgical tools and an operating theater. He also discovers black magical ritual markings on the floor. Lance is then confronted by the apparitions of Friedkin and his lab assistances and becomes one of Friedkin’s “experiments”.

Grave Encounters as you can tell by the trailer is set up like “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) which runs off of the “found footage” motif. This type of film making is actually pulled off pretty well but of course with any low budget film the acting isn’t so great. The footage is good though. It is really done like something you would see Ghost Hunters or something. There are one on one interview shots because this is all raw footage that the producer supposedly “found”. Still though the action is filmed well and there were actually some pretty creepy moments. There was even one “jump scare” that made me flinch. 
After a hard day of ghost hunting....snuggle time.

Overall not bad at all and worth a look see especially if you can access it easily through Netflix or some other streaming application. The film did well enough in rentals and selected theater release to garner a sequel, Grave Encounters 2.  


  1. Dude, stay far, FAR away from the sequel. One of the most disappointing follow ups I've ever seen.

    1. Yeah I have read a few scathing reviews. I was kind of hoping for something like what happened with Blair Witch: Book of Shadows. I kind of felt like that movie worked a little better than the original.

      One thing I didn't expect from Grave Encounters and that was the whole deal with the exit doors leading to another part of the hospital or realm of existence I guess. I thought that was pretty original. I could have lived without the very, very end where Lance "signs off".

      Maybe if I down a few beers I will check out the second one just for giggles.