PLOT: Grave Encounters follows a group of "paranormal researchers" with a TV show. They ran into something horrible while visiting the Collingwood Psych Ward, and we've got the found footage.
REVIEW: I'm not a hater of the hand-held cam movies. In fact, I really like Cloverfield, Rec, the Collingwood Story and I did dig Blair Witch back in the day. My fiancee is a huge fan of the Ghost Hunters TV show, so I was able to sucker her in for this one. I'm happy to say that this movie is packed with scares, although the balance and pacing of the film tends to be weighted more towards the end. I can certainly say that it is worth watching, if you can wait for the payoff.
Have you ever watched an episode of Ghost Hunters or one of its derivatives? If you have, you know that these guys are usually pretty intelligent and unbiased people who are legitimately trying to study something and can keep themselves together in a terrifying old mansion at night with nothing but a night vision camera to back them up. The show is then edited when someone hears something or the camera sort of catches something, then scary music is piped in and everything cuts to a commercial.
Really, if you hate those shows, you can usually blame the editing because I don't take much issue with the guys themselves. They're trying hard to find some evidence and they're not huge idiots. This is all to say that Grave Encounters suffers from a misfire in terms of accurately presenting the cast of a show like this. Their performances aren't strong to begin with but the problem is that when things do start happening, they all immediately lose their minds. Don't get me wrong, the presentation of the show is a lot like it is on TV but the actors just didn't seem right to me. I know that it might seem lame to have people who really don't lose it until they have to, but I would have found it a little more credible. Picking nits, I guess.
Like I said before, the movie really ramps things up during the second half. If you're not into tension steeped boo scares, look out. Also, the movie is a little all over the place so if you can't suspend disbelief you may find yourself smacking your head a few times (weird things start happening in the building that are not exactly plausible, let's put it that way). Sure, it isn't perfect. If you don't like "found footage" flicks, this won't likely change your opinion. That being said, I thought that Grave Encounters was scarier than I expected, even if it took a bit of time getting there.
If you dig (or loathe) those Ghost Hunter programs and want to get a few good jumps, slide this one in! It's scary and although the whole "this is all real, we found this" thing isn't new, I like the idea of running with the reality show gimmick. This was a flick worth watching. Plus, the directors have a cool name.