I’ve heard such mixed reviews on Grave Encounters. It seems that people either love it or absolutely despise it. I’m one of those people who actually thought The Blair Witch was scary, so I don’t automatically trash on Found Footage films, but I do get that the market is over saturated with them. Grave Encounters was one of the better ones of recent years though, and the way it spoofed the ubiquitous ghost hunter genre that has grown up around the SyFy channel the last few years was nothing short of brilliant.
That said, there really wasn’t anywhere else to go with the story….or was there?
Blair Witch utterly failed in it’s sequel by going meta and self aware. Grave Encounters goes down the same path here, but with better results. First and foremost, they keep it as a found footge movie. That makes a big difference…you know what to expect. Secondly, they actually expand the mythology of the abandoned asylum. We find out more about what went on there and perhaps why it’s haunted. We learn more about the ghosts themselves without getting to personal.
The problem is that we don’t get any of this until almost the third act.
The first forty minuets to an hour of this film are almost painful to watch. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it because it was real close there for a while. None of the characters are likable and you can’t feel sympathy for anyone. All of this works against the film.
The set up is a film student reviews the film, then starts to suspect that it wasn’t just a movie after all, but a real documentary repackaged as fiction. The actors are all missing, but he tracks down the lead’s mother who is suffering from dimensia, and also the producer who gets belligerent but basically confirms what they suspected. He tracks down the asylum they filmed at and that’s when stuff really starts to happen.
At first it’s just a bunch of the same stuff from the first film, but obviously with better effects and a bigger budget. As we get into world building and more explanation of how the building works things really do start to get interesting.
Bottom line, buy the first one, and rent this one. It’s worth watching but I don’t think it’s worth revisiting. (Speaking of revisiting, there’s new Violent Blue up!)