Review Fix’s 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Coverage: ‘Grave Encounters’ Review

A feast of otherworldly activities, “Grave Encounters,” written and directed by the Vicious Brothers is an epic of supernatural proportions fitting right into place among other verite films.

Following the ghastly tracks of Paranormal Activity (2007) and The Blair Witch Project (1999), the movie is presented as authentic “found footage” of a television crew’s terrorizing unearthly experience.

Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) and his crew set out to shoot an episode of the ghost-hunting reality television show, “Grave Encounters”, inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. Doubting that they will come face to face with any spirits, Preston bribes the newly employed gardener to fabricate a run-in with a ghost story during an interview.

Voluntarily locking themselves inside the building for the night, they soon realize they are not alone. Lost in a maze of dark corridors and service tunnels, the group is torment by the unsettled ghosts of the former patients. The downward spiral of their own sanity brings them to discover the hospital’s secret past.

The movie is filmed entirely from the camera operator’s viewpoint with 10 different cameras, in the dark and without suspense provoking music setting off a documentary tone. By exalting the special effects a few notches, the flick raises higher levels of emotions for the audience making the “true events” convincing.

The use of unknown actors was significant for a film of this caliber. The unfamiliar faces along with their performances persuaded viewers that the horrific events were real. Aside from the compelling screams of panic and sobs of despair, the characters were rather standard.

The only female character, Sasha Parker (Ashleigh Gryzko), comes into direct contact with the ghost when it lifts her hair and is whimpering within the first 10 minutes. The only African American character, T.C. Gibson (Merwin Mondesir), surprisingly is not the first to meet his maker, but is the only one continuously cussing. The two roles are slightly stereotypical.

The tech guru, Matt White (Juan Riedinger), blows you away with his hair raising performance; you will definitely hear his creepy chuckles hours after it’s over.

The uncanny resemblance of the “Grave Encounters” crew to actual paranormal-seeking reality television crews like “Ghost Hunters” added a bit of humor to the start of a bone-chilling turn of events.

The loss of cellular service is relatively typical in horror films and the lost sense of time seems a bit improbable. It’s farfetched for a ghost to stop the sun from rising.

Make-up Artists Amber Makar and Libby Nagle did an impressive job at creating the strikingly fearful demon girl played by Eva Gifford. Besides the cliche long jet black hair and pale complexion, she is definitely a villain to be remembered. You haven’t seen anything until you see her surfacing from a tub of bloody water.

Hospital beds flying, arms coming out of walls and head-on lobotomies the movie is a tangle of fright one right after the other. Through the eyewitness footage approach, viewers are sure to forget its fictitious and will be jumping in their seats.

The Vicious Brothers live up to their name in “Grave Encounters.”

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