I’m shocked by how much I enjoyed GRAVE ENCOUNTERS. I remember checking out the trailer a while back and shrugging. It even dared to have one of those “I’m screaming and now my mouth is stretching bigger than it should!” ghouls in it! Bah, and who needs another found-footage movie and the limited color palette that comes with? Andre from HORROR DIGEST was my canary in the coalmine. She watched it, survived unscathed and wrote a review about how it made her pee and poop her pants. That’s all I needed to know to journey forward and so I checked it out one night and found it to be better than it had a right to be. It starts out very mundane with a guy explaining how the footage came into his possession but once the actual footage gets started, it’s entertaining all the way.
GRAVE is titled after a ghost hunting program not unlike PARANORMAL STATE which your Aunt John has forced me to watch a zillion times against my will. I’m always complaining because nothing ever happens and the folks on the show are forced to act amazed by the flimsiest evidence. GRAVE works as a clever parody of such a show. There’s a phony shit shoveling psychic and an amusing scene where the host pays off a gardener to lie through his teeth about his experiences. The “Grave Encounters” crew (who stand in dramatic, ready-for-action poses) is filming their sixth episode in an abandoned mental hospital that they will find out is indeed seriously haunted. What ensues, though never fully believable, is so fun and gleefully spooky that you’ll feel like a kid running through a neighborhood haunted-house on Halloween. You know it’s not real, but you can’t help getting into the frenetic spirit anyway.
Not only are the shock scares surprisingly effective, but this movie also plays with your mind pretty good too. The asylum turns into a trippy maze of sorts and things get eerily surreal. The authentic setting, not unlike the one employed in SESSION 9 is an indisputably unnerving place. Unlike most films of this kind, the cast is exceedingly likable (particularly lead SEAN ROBERTSON) and are easy to empathize with. Some of the effects don’t come off as well as they could, so the blurrier you can make your eyes by drinking alcohol while watching this, the better. There may be glitches scattered about but I think the overall exuberance on display overrides them. I ended up viewing it a second time so that Aunt John could check it out and now I like it even more. I don’t mind telling you he jumped pretty high off the couch at one moment. GRAVE ENCOUNTERS is on Netflix Streaming, iTunes & Amazon so check it out; don’t take it too seriously and don’t be surprised if it ends up leaving you feeling inexplicably tweaked.