Review: Grave Encounters
A few days ago Jeremy Shaw and myself challenged each other to watch 5 films that we have not watched yet. All of the films that I was challenged to watch were purposely left off of my ques, however today I began my challenge. I began with Grave Encounters. I was no doubt challenged to watch this because I loath found footage films. Don’t get me wrong, when they are done right they are an art form. However the Blair With Projects and VHS there is ten horrible found footage/”amateur” footage. Grave Encounters falls somewhere in between.
The plot is simple enough at first, but becomes increasingly bloated as the film progresses. Like so many of these found footage type films we begin with a disclaimer wherein we are told that what we are about to see is 100% real. A film crew who were shooting a television series about paranormal activity are on location of their next shoot.
Two camera operators, a tech guy, a psychic and the host lock themselves in a supposedly haunted asylum. The first thirty minutes were actually interesting for a few reasons. Because we are being presented with the raw footage of this shoot we see the crew discussing certain facts about their shows authenticity. In short their show is entirely fake, and they pay people to claim to have seen ghostly activity.
I liked this aspect because we all know that these numerous paranormal hunting shows are all phony bologna. Another thing that I enjoyed was how much I really hated the shows main host. He reminded me so much of the host from ghost adventures on Travel channel. The dude was a total douche and his poor acting is really just a character based on the real life host (In my opinion anyway).
Considering that this is supposedly a film crew working foe television their camera work is quite shoddy and shaky. I found myself wondering many times if they even had a tripod? This is a huge problem with found footage movies. Like all other genres in horror they have a set of cliches and gags, and Grave Encounters uses every one of these tropes.
They lock themselves in and begin their work. After an uneventful night, true activity begins to occur. At the 40 minute mark I realized that I was actually pretty invested in the movie. They do a really good job of building suspense with the camera work and fake gags, but then I also realized that there was a severe lack of actual in camera scares as well.
Soon it picks up and the true paranormal takes over. They are essentially picked off one by one, by SOMETHING. This is where the movie gets annoying.
There is a plethora cgi scare effects. I cannot stress enough how much I HATE cgi in found footage movies. The whole concept of found footage is ruined with cgi. I am supposed to believe that this is a real film crew being terrorized. Blair with didn’t have cgi. Paranormal Activity didn’t use CGI (until that god awful ending). In addition to the OBVIOUS effects we are treated to even more genre tropes such as the cameras going static and becoming pixelated during intense action sequences and an over use of night vision filters.
Even with these working against it, Grave Encounters maintained a decent pace and kept my interest. It becomes very convoluted when the ghouls turn out to the creation of some mad scientist who is also a ghoul, and a satanist? It doesn’t really reveal anything about the creatures, other than they enjoy mind games and slowly turning their victims into mental patients themselves.
Overall I would put this right in the middle of the found footage spectrum. It’s worth watching once and I am probably going to seek out the sequel to see if they actually explain the origins of these ghouls.