So here we have yet another found footage horror film. Let's see how this one stacks up to the rest of the bunch. The found footage genre definitely has an abundance of films lately and they range from the very well made movie to the absolutely boring, when is something actually going to happen movie. "Grave Encounters" lies somewhere in the middle of these movies. It's not great butit's not a bad movie either. I like to say it is what it is.
Lance Preston runs a television show called "Grave Encounters" where he and a team of paranormal experts go out and in search of the unexplained. Think of this show as a "Ghost Hunters" or "Paranormal State." This time they are going to this abandoned asylum, Collingwood, to see if they stories of the hauntings there are true. People say they hear strange noises there at all times of the night and others stated they have seen strange figures and things they can not explain happen on that said property. Lance and the team are making their 6th episode of their show one to remember. Traveling through the building and setting up their equipment nothing really seems to happen for them but they decided to remain. Later through their stay there things go bad, very bad.
What I really enjoyed about this show is how accurately they portrayed this style of TV. It really felt like we were watching actual footage from this "Grave Encounters" show. I am a fan of the paranormal shows and think they are very well staged and at times can give a good scare or two and I didn't expect less of this movie. The acting is strong for the most part. For the characters you have the leader Lance, you have the tech guy, the scientific girl, and the crazy medium. They play off each other very well and make you believe that what you are seeing on the screen is real.
What I didn't enjoy about the film is what drags down other found footage movies. There is so much time spent just watching nothing waiting to catch a glimpse of something, waiting for something to go wrong or happen. I felt this movie, even though it was just over 1 hour and 30 minutes, needed to be tightened up and maybe drop about 15 minutes off the running time. There were a couple of scares I missed because I started to get bored watching what they were doing on screen. When you start to bore the audience in a film like this, the audience will miss potential scares. This movie just needs a few tweaks here and there and I think this could have been one of the better found footage films. It's definitely not up there with the likes of V/H/S, which I must say was brilliant, but it definitely better than "Atrocious".
Written and directed by The Vicious Brothers "Grave Encounters" does off up some decent scares. Though I would advise not to watch the trailer before seeing the film as some of the major scares are seen in the trailer. The effect work is passable though I thought the Vicious Brothers needed to go back and watch some 1930's footage because the archive footage from the 30's did not look anything like archive footage. It just looked like people with bad makeup, filmed in night vision with a film grain filter on the footage. I thought that part really detracted from the film and maybe should not have been shown. The directors do have a good handle on making the actual film feel authentic but need to tighten the pace up. Like I was saying earlier, if they took the time to tighten the film up I think it would have been more enjoyable. They already have made or are working on the sequel which is set to be released in October of this year.
The acting was good throughout. Sean Rogerson, who has been on shows like "Fringe" and "Harper's Island" plays the main character Lance Preston. He has got the paranormal show host locked down. While I was watching the film I felt that I wasn't watching the actor Rogerson but the host Lance Preston. He did a great job with what he had to work with and so did the other cast.
Juan Riedinger plays Matt, the tech guy. He has been in "Jennifer's Body" as well as "Fringe" Again not much to say but a good job. His character has up and downs in his persona and Juan rolls with the punches and plays the part perfectly.
Mackenzie Gray plays the character Houston. He is the medium of the group. Gray is great at play strange characters and can be seen in the likes of "Smallville" and "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus". He is probably the better actor of the group next to Rogerson. He makes you feel that he knows what he's doing when he's trying to contact the paranormal entities. He is the more humane character of the group and knows that when things start to really happen it's time to pull the plug and just leave.
Rounding out the group is from TV's "The Line" Merwin Mondesir. He plays the camera man T.C. He just wants to get the stuff shot and get out. He too knows when stuff starts happening that it's better left alone and get out. Merwin probably has the more emotional role in the movie and his feelings are shown beautifully on screen, though at times I did find that his acting was a little over the top in a couple of the scenes.
Another point that I liked in the movie that it kind of took you inside the background production of these shows and kind of shows you how fake these shows actually are. Do I believe in the paranormal, I do. Do I believe that we will ever contact them through shows like this...no I don't and this movie in a way gives you a first hand look at what actually goes on behind the scenes of making a show like "Paranormal State"
I give this show 3 stars out of 5. While this movie has it's faults I did find enough scares and enjoyed the acting to give it the 3 stars but had to knock 2 stars off for it being a tad on the boring side. If you are looking for another found footage horror movie to watch and you seen the others I'd pop this one in, even if it's just to see what it would be like making a paranormal ghost hunting show. Till next time my friends.