I had heard about this film for a while now. It’s only a couple of years old, granted, but I’d been hearing positive buzz in random places within this past year mostly and wanted to check it out. I got pretty lucky and found it at Walmart of all places for $5 a couple of weeksbefore Halloween. Truth be told, I’ve found a lot of fun flicks there near Halloween. Trailer Park of Terror is another, one that I’ll review pretty soon no doubt. But let’s stay focused here and talk about Grave Encounters.
I was about as skeptical about the film as the ‘Grave Encounters’ crew are… or were. The first scene sets us down with a fellow who does the editing for the team’s reality show. I hadn’t fully considered previously how difficult it must be to act, in a film, as if you’re not an actor but an average person on a reality show. It proved to be an impossible one for the editor as he doesn’t sell it very well, but luckily, it doesn’t in any way detract from the movie itself. It’s a short segment setting you up to have a Blair Witch type experience where we’re going to watch footage of a crew that were in for far more than they bargained for.
We’re then introduced to said crew, who as you’ll quickly notice, look like they’re style over substance. At least Lance, the lead investigator does. I laughed a bit, I could definitely see some of Ghost Adventures’ Zak Bagans in his character. I’m definitely not a fan of that show. I don’t care for the way it comes across, but I know it has a largefollowing and I’m not looking to argue shows here. The rest of the crew look fairly normal, though Sasha does certainly resemble past members of Ghost Hunters. If you dive in and are upset at their over-the-top style, then you’re going in wrong from the start. You’ll find out sooner than later that they hardly believe what they’re even saying, they’re a parody group to the real life reality show spook hunters. They do it for the money, clearly, not to bring any form of actual validity to the field.
Lance begins interviewing people who are associated in any way at all with the hospital they’re about to enter and finally make their way inside where they’re given a tour and testimonial’s from some colorful folk. Those ‘folk’ include a fake psychic, a groundskeeper who he pays to make up a ghost story and others. At that point, you know what to expect and it’s actually pretty funny. It doesn’t stay that way but it’s a good way to poke at skeptics while still later becoming an actual horror film. Lance has them locked in until 6AM the next morning and the team gets on their way.
The hunting starts out fairly slowly, it feels pretty realistic as to what shows have shown us in the past. Not much happens, just small things and the team exploring the deep hallways and creepy rooms of the rundown, abandoned hospital were lobotomies were oncehanded out to all the good little inmates who needed, or didn’t even, fixing. A lot of banter back and forth goes on, but don’t worry that it’ll bore you, it’s plenty good enough to keep you intrigued and interested as to what’s coming to the cocky, skeptical team of ghost busters.
As soon as bigger things start happening, things really get moving. Noises, shadows and people behind shoulders that the crew doesn’t even see begin to popup. While they may sneak around just enough to wet your whistle in the beginning, they rapidly get more noticeable and even violent. I will spare you a chunk of detail there but they get hopping hard! The team starts to really start question what’s going on as they weren’t at all prepared to face actual paranormal things. The panic sets in slowly and just grows as the film progresses on. The decision Lance made to have them all locked-in seriously becomes something of a regret. The hospital starts to feel like a maze where their talkies aren’t operating properly, people are feeling strung-out and distraught and every hall more confusing than the last. Though past 6AM already, the hospital and outside view from the windows remains completely black. All watches and cell-phones point to morning, then afternoon, then evening and still there isn’t a glimmer of light to be seen.
Madness truly ensues. If you try to mentally put yourself in the shoes of any member of the Grave Encounters team, you really feel a true sense of dread, fear and imagine that it is what hell must be like. In this abandoned hospital where night never ends, they’re trapped. No one has come to release them, food has run completely out, people are becoming separated and all exits stop existing. What’s next? Where do they go? What do they do? Do they make it out? If so, who makes it and who doesn’t?
There are a lot of questions you’ll eagerly await answers for as the disc spins. That’s what makes Grave Encounters a breath of fresh air.
It’s a really, really enjoyable watch and I highly recommend it to everyone, paranormal fan or not. It will absolutely keep your interest and maybe even have you squirming around in your seat. I know that I saw someone squirm while watching, I imagine that you will too!