The supernatural horror genre has, in recent years, been inundated with found footage style horror films such as Rec, Cloverfield and, of course, the Paranormal Activity series. Grave encounters is another such film, shot and marketed in the same way as its predecessors.
The majority of people reading this will, most probably, in their lives have come across Most Haunted. A British supernatural hunt style show, exactly mirroring Grave encounters. I myself used to watch this show in its early years and this film is exactly what I hoped would occur every episode. Instead I was given the occasional orb or strange creaking door which the team used to run from and scream over which was a huge disappointment to me, if only it had been more like this film….
Grave encounters is based upon a supposedly genuine piece of film kept private from the public until now. Shot by a television crew working on a paranormal hunt style show called Grave encounters, the film appears to show an investigation which the team began going horribly wrong, and confirming beyond reasonable doubt that the paranormal exists and it isn’t very happy!
Both production crew and cast for this film are relatively unknown, written and directed by The Vicious Brothers and starring Sean Rogerson (Lance Preston), Ashleigh Gryzko (Sasha Parker), Juan Riedinger (Matt White), Merwin Mondesir (T.C Gibson) and Mackenzie Gray (Houston Grey). In this instance, the lack of big names in the cast list helps to aid the realism of the film. We’ve all been watching something at some point racking our brains trying to remember who he/she is and what he/she has been in. I recognised neither actor nor actress from anything else and was therefore able to fully believe in the story and characters being played out in front of me.
The film itself is very standard, it follows all other found footage style films in both plot expansion and scares. What it does, it does well, given such a novice crew of filmmakers as well as actors. The way the footage is supposedly pieced together, only cut for time restriction purposes is very clever. The build up sequence at the start of the film works well in portraying the lives and beliefs of the team as well as their morals. The aim is to make you feel as though you’re behind the scenes of the show Grave encounters and this is done well. Scares are gradually built up, nothing is rushed or overdone which is a rare treat in a film of this type. The cast portray their roles very well, considering they have to act as though they are not acting until they are scared and then have to act as though they are not actors but genuinely terrified! Confusing I know! As I said, this was done very well and really helped to pull the plot along, had any one of them been slightly weaker than the rest it could have ruined the ambience of the film totally.
The location was superb. Shot at Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Vancouver, a location used many times before in various television shows and films. A location such as this has a natural unearthliness given the history of the building and of the occupants and so is ideal for a show of the Grave Encounters type.
Although I struggled to get scared whilst watching this film I did feel as though I were there, which is the sole purpose of shooting a film in this style. As things progressed further I found my tension levels rising with the plot, eager to see what the next scene would show. For me this is the key to a good suspenseful horror, I need to care what happens to the characters I’m watching on screen and with this I did.
Grave encounters is a classic film of its type and worthy of being in any top ten list of its genre. Plot, cast and production are all very cleverly and intelligently thought out and executed. The film, whilst not being as terrifying as I first hoped, was a very enjoyable film to watch with some twists and turns along the way which will keep you both baffled and bewildered. I eagerly await my opportunity to watch the sequel, imaginatively entitled Grave encounters 2.
Director: The Vicious Brothers
Writer: The Vicious Brothers
Stars: Ben Wilkinson, Sean Rogerson, Ashleigh Gryzko, Juan Riedinger, Merwin Mondesir, Mackenzie Gray
Runtime: 92 min