Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Here goes an idea for a movie… A video crew descends into some allegedly haunted joint, full of skepticism and stuff, only to find out that this time around this junk is real.  The footage that was once lost, now is found and it's being shown to us for the first time.  What?  You've familiar with this concept?  But here's the thing though about 'Grave Encounters' from a couple of dudes calling themselves The Vicious Brothers… the final output is actually okay.  For real.  Would I lie to you?

The name of the reality show is 'Grave Encounters' and it is hosted by the irrepressible Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) who informs us in his intro that he used to live in a haunted house as a child, and has been searching for proof of the paranormal ever since.  Whether that's true or not, that being living in a haunted house for little Lance, but we do doubt his sincerity in searching for paranormal activity since his main purpose seems to fabricating stuff to make his show more entertaining.

Today 'Grave Encounters' is at the Collingswood crazy house where atrocities of every nature were taking place before it was shutdown some fifty years ago, now just known to be the house where the ghosts live.  Thus Lance and his crew, which includes Sasha on Cam 1 (Ashleigh Gryzko), T.C on Cam 2 (Merwin Mondesir), Matt on tech (Juan Riedinger) and Houston (McKenzie Gray) the psychic investigator, it's time to track down some ghostage.

So you know how these things work.  They get some interviews from the locals to setup the mythology that went on behind the locked gates, they get a quick tour from
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the caretaker, they get inside the joint and setup a bunch of static night vision cameras, and now they are about ready to do some paranormal investigating.  But wait… gotta chain the doors shut.  Absolutely have to chain the doors shut because that makes total sense.

Again, as expected they traipse through the loony bin, cameras in tow, and they see nothing, they hear nothing, they experience nothing.  But we know it's not going to be that way for long, don't we?  Ever so slowly the weirdness starts to occur, first without our crew noticing, then right in front of their faces.  Priority number one once the strangeness starts to happen?  Get the hell out of there, because even though they are paranormal investigators, no real paranormal investigator wants to really find a ghost because that would be scary.  Oh wait, they can't leave because Lance had the gates chained shut.  Whatever, because T.C. is getting out of there no matter what.  I mean in the long history of people who wanted to get the hell out of a haunted house, you will be hard pressed to find somebody who wanted to get out of this haunted house worse than T.C does.   

He's not getting out.  No one's getting out.  This was episode six of 'Grave Encounters' and we were told at the beginning there won't be a seventh.  Of course I'm writing this kind of late so 'Grave Encounters 2' is out already so maybe there is a seventh.  It just like it's going be a whole new cast and crew is all. 

Here's the thing people.  Movies don't scare me anymore.  I had heard 'Grave Encounters' was really, really scary and although I don't find being frightened a pleasant feeling, I still set this up for maximum effect.  I watched it on October 31st, late at night, no lights and no sound except what came from the surround sound.  It didn't scare me.  There are reasons for this of course, one being that I'm older, another being that I've seen way too many horror movies and I don't think there are any new shock methods out there and thirdly, I simply do not believe in the paranormal.  Now if I was actually locked in a dark, empty insane asylum I would probably be scared, but not because of ghosts but because there's might be some nutjob homeless dude in there who looking to crack me over the head.  That being said, I did enjoy me some 'Grave Encounters'. 

I realize that this movie wasn't a comedy, but man… if ever there was a group of people who acted like I would imagine how people should behave when encountering a malevolent ghost for the very first time, then this group of actors completely pulled this off, and their genuine depictions of fear was really funny to me.  These people were off the chain scared out of their minds and I completely brought into that.

There wasn't an awful lot of ghostly, ghastly imagery in this film as a whole, most of the tension and fear coming from the characters trapped in a situation from which they had no foreseeable escape, but the few horrific images that were in this film were used very effectively, and if you are sensitive to this kind of thing, I can see where it would scare the bejeebus you.  You probably should see it coming, but there was some ghastly stuff on display here.

So what makes this found footage yarn better than the others, at least in my opinion, was a much better cast of talented unknown actors, the Vicious Brothers in their freshman outing seeming to have figured out how to pace one of these types of movies, and the effective use of the available surroundings.  Maybe this could've been trimmed down a little for time since the final scene in the catacombs did feel like it was dragging, but outside of that 'Grave Encounters' did give the found footage genre a much needed shot in the arm.
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