One of the best found-footage horror films out there, Grave Encounters follows a group of paranormal investigators who become trapped inside an abandoned mental asylum. Directors Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz have crafted a chilling and macabre ghost film here with some rewarding scares.
The film opens with a production company, explaining that 96 hours of footage was found on the team’s cameras, and has only been edited to reduce the time. The film then goes into the found footage, almost a behind the scenes of any ghost hunting shown you may have seen, even bribing people to make up stories about seeing ghosts in the asylum grounds. For the first 45 minutes of the film, its’s kinda similar to paranormal activity, strange sounds and bumps in the night. But this is where the similarities end, because unlike Paranormal Activity there are physical manifestations of evil spirits and some ghoulish activities. The group are taking their last chances and attempt an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon), and this is when a ghostly hand manipulates Sasha’s hair (Ashleigh Gryzko). Things just get weirder from here on.
At 6am, the doors should be unlocked and the team free to leave, but it turns out they’re trapped inside, with each exit leading to a new corridor. This is a great way of portraying the growing sense of insanity and confusion in the crew, similar to what the inhabitants of the hospital probably felt. With no escape, they’re subjected to 96 hours inside the hospital. During this time people get ill, disappear and eventually go insane.
Whilst this film produces some scares, they can be quite predictable only in the sense not much tension is built up and I was expecting the worst. Other than that, it’s still hella creepy. I have a fear of old fashioned Asylum’s anyway, probably because I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest when I was way too young. With this fear in mind, it’s easy to say I was shitting myself over this film, you couldn’t pay me enough to go in an old asylum.
What I really enjoyed about this film was its ability to create a disturbing atmosphere. It literally grew in insanity, until its climax when we find out everyone’s been subjected to an experimental lobotomy and they’re now allowed to leave. It’s great that the team start out as arrogant sceptics, to mildly scared to full on damaged by their experiences.
This spectral encounter film will entertain as well as thoroughly creep you out. More intelligent than your average ghost film, Grave Encounters excels in its sub-genre. Don’t bother with the sequel though.
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