Sunday, February 24, 2013

Grave Encounters (2011)

After Paranormal Activity was released, there seemed to be a never-ending stream of shaky-cam movies involving possession and ghosts.  None really lived up to their inspiration, or their predecessor, The Blair Witch Project.  Grave Encounters had the things I loved about Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity, with a little Yellow Brick Road thrown in.  Readers of my blog know that there are a couple things I don't love in horror movies -- copious jump scares and weird mutating faces.  This has a little bit of both, but I will abide it for the other things I liked about this flick.

Grave Encounters is a combination "found footage"/shaky cam movie about a group of twenty-somethings making a "Ghost Hunters"-type show.  Although they filmed an awesome trailer/pilot, they seem to making a joke out of the whole thing, since they've never really even seen anything paranormal.  Their assignment for "episode 6" is the Collingswood Psychiatric Hospital, which has one of those standard backstories about patient abuse and a bunch of lobotomies.  The group makes a big show of the caretaker locking them in there overnight, and they set up all of their equipment.

They wander around the hospital laughing about the lack of any ghosts or presences, but their attitudes soon change.  What starts out as a slammed door and a wobbling wheelchair turns into a full-on paranormal assault.  Not only were there actual ghosts to be seen (like the picture above) but there were also some really great creepy touches, like the medical bracelets, spoiled food, blocked fire exit, and reversed front door.  The entire asylum turns into a massive time warp/maze, making the film crew lose their grip as the hours go by.

I really liked this movie.  I appreciated how they portrayed the slow breakdown of the group, and effects weren't half-bad either.  It definitely provided that eerie, creepy vibe, eschewing the corniness that often accompanies the "found footage" genre.  I'm imagining that Grave Encounters 2 might totally jump the shark, but I will check it out for curiosity's sake.  But this is a fun, scary watch, and available on Netflix instant.      

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