I did not have very high expectations of this film since I’d heard that “found footage” phrase being used. But REC and Trollhunter are good films and those are both shot in the same style so I decide to give it a chance. and I’m glad I did because overall I really enjoyed watching this film.
We get an introduction from guy who is supposed to be a suit at a TV company trying to convince us of how authentic the footage is and introducing us to Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson, the star of the Grave Encounters reality TV show which is another of those ghost hunter shows where a TV crew and a bunch of dicks go to an old house, keep the lights off and pretend to be scared by the noises in the dark.
The footage does come across as authentic for the most part but I wonder where the shots of patients in a mental hospital came from since they’re certainly not part of the location footage. Preston films his introduction outside the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, a huge abandoned building complex with a dark history and several reports of hauntings. They tour the building and see all the spooky sights – the window that opens by itself, the room covered in crazy writing, the suicide bathroom and the vaguely creepy service tunnels.
They interview various witnesses about the things they’d seen or heard, including trying to interview a gardener who says he’d seen nothing so they bribe him to lie about it. By including this it makes the footage look authentic because it plays to our cynical expectation that these show are just a set-up. We also get the last member of the crew arriving, the phony psychic Houston Gray (Mackenzie Gray) and he gives all the usual spiel about dark energies and feeling of spirits. This footage is also unedited so we see him go out of character as soon his spiel is over.
The technician Matt (Juan Riedinger) sets up some stationary cameras at the so-called hotspots and has them connected to a computer at their base in foyer near the entrance. He shows of all the cliché ghost-hunter equipment, night vision cameras, EMF meters, electronic thermometers, tape recorders and a Geiger counter (just because its cool). From what I’ve seen of these shows on television this all note perfect. The team all gather at the base camp and pose for a group shot. Also in the team are Sasha (Ashleigh Gryzko) some sort of supernatural expert? More likely she is there to scream a lot. The cameraman is TC (Merwin Mondesir) and he has been behind the camera up until now. Preston makes a great show of the fact that are going to be locked in all night until six in the morning and he gives the caretaker the chain and padlock to lock them in. I wondered about this since this same caretaker and stopped Matt lighting up a cigarette earlier because of fire regulations and I’m pretty sure fire regulations also insist you don’t lock up a building’s only exit when there’s people inside. That turns out to a lot less significant later
Things are very slow to develop. In fact nothing seems to happen at all until about and hour before the caretaker is due to come back for them. TC wanders around the corridors upstairs and he gets freaked by a heavy door slamming shut. Minor as it is they are all very excited by it. They hear a scream and find a big heavy hospital trolley has been pushed over. Preston tries asking questions and hoping to hear the ghosts answer on a tape recorder. Preston is practically begging for the ghosts to show him something. Then something invisible pulls at Sasha’s hair and she freaks and runs off.
Sasha wants to leave and Preston agrees that they should get their equipment packed up ready for the caretaker opening the door. It is significant that the first sign of anything supernatural they want to leave and there’s nobody wanting to stay. Preston takes some photographs which have been edited into the footage in post-production and they show spirit figures around the area.
The end of the film things start getting creepy and they get picked off one by one by ghosts and they can’t find any way out of the building. I thought that the ghost effects were a bit much and it might have been a better film if they had been avoided since they had been pretty good at creating tension without them in the middle section of the film.
I think this is pretty good film and although it wasn’t very original it is entertaining has a few nice scares but not really from the ghosts. When I saw the name Vicious Brothers I suppose I was expecting a blood-spattered gore-fest but this film delivers without that.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- TV Tropes
- Paranormal Movie Review: Grave Encounters (thespiritseekers.wordpress.com)
- New One-Sheet and Trailer Debut – Grave Encounters (dreadcentral.com)
- Grave Encounters (2011) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)