We begin the film following a production crew as they are en route to film another episode of their paranormal ghost hunting series, Grave Encounters. They are visiting an abandoned hospital, supposedly 'the most haunted place on earth', and intend to lock themselves in overnight all while the cameras are rolling.
Before I start ragging on the cliches, I want to talk about a few of the things this low budget indie horror does right. Unlike a lot of these films, the movie actually gives you a bit of a reason as to why the crew continues to keep filming (they need the cameras as a light source). I can't tell you how many of these types of films I've seen over the years, and I just find it so unbelievable that they protagonists continue to film some of the stuff that they film. At some point if I'm being chased or tormented by some kind of demon, the camera has to come second. I found this film to be a bit more believable in that sense, and I can also appreciate the bits of humor thrown in for good measure. There were a few scenes where the crew coaxes interviewees to say things on camera to make people watching believe that they've seen a ghost, but clearly not even the crew really believes in the paranormal. The painful genre cliches also got a few chuckles out of me, but unfortunately I don't think those were intentional. Now, on to how I really feel.
I hate to sound like some kind of movie elitist, but I find that if you've seen one of these kinds of movies, you've seen them all. We have our obnoxious band of merry travelers doing something incredibly stupid (locking themselves in an abandoned building at night), and then all sorts of creepy noises and knocks start happening until finally, the paranormal entity starts getting really pissed and people start dying. it's a formula that's so widely used, but so rarely executed to a level that actually brings any new scares or original thought to the genre. I've become so accustomed to predicting jump scares that they rarely ever phase me. Some of the things I look for in these types of films are atmosphere and believability. Do I really believe that demons can haunt me? No. But I have a good imagination, and if I can immerse myself into a found footage movie and feel a little sympathy towards some of the characters and their situation, I tend to enjoy the movie better.
Grave Encounters does a decent job of setting up a somewhat creepy atmosphere in the first half of the movie. Aside from the atrocious acting, I really tried my best to get into this movie and put myself into these characters shoes. Again, aside from the dreadful acting, the movie almost had me going. And then in come the stupid demonic faces. I really believe that when a movie shows too much, it ruins a lot of the scare factors. A few creaking doors and windows slamming can sometimes be creepy and a little believable, but when you throw a wide gaped, black eyed CGI demon face into the mix, I just can't take you seriously anymore. From that point on in this film, the scenes just got more and more ridiculous to the point where I just couldn't care about this lackluster film crew and their silly TV show anymore. We already know that everyone in a found footage film will die, so now all thats left to do is sit with your arms crossed through another 40 minutes of ridiculous CGI zombie-like creatures and predictable jump scares until the last of these horribly-acted dumb-asses finally croaks.
There was a lot of hype and internet praise for this movie, but I honestly just don't see it. is it the worst found footage film I've ever seen? Of course not. Is it the best? Not by a long shot. In summary, what we have here is another very average found footage horror film that will probably only appeal to those of who you like these kinds of films already. As for me, I think I'm going to stay away from these kinds of films for a bit until I forget how much that they generally irritate me. There is a sequel to this film which I may check out should it happen to stream for free at some point, but I'm in no rush. Check it out if you're in the mood for some brainless jump scares and found footage cliches, but otherwise you aren't missing much.
** OUT OF *****