I first watched Greystone Park about five years or so ago, while I was on a found footage binge. When I saw it on the dollar store shelf, I grabbed it entirely for the special features. I remember it not making much of an impression on me originally, but the idea of Oliver Stone’s son making a movie intrigued me. I recall not thinking much about it. That review kind of still stands.
Okay, perhaps I’m being unnecessarily harsh. Really, this is not the genre for what Stone was trying to do. This film is pretentious, and more than a little artsy. It has SOME interesting concepts and some great lines…and all of them are more than this kind of movie deserves. Real people don’t talk like this.
We have the main characters breaking into an abandoned insane asylum, pretty much just for kicks, but there seems to be a kind-of idea floating around that maybe they could make a movie out of this… The filmmaking aspect of the story however feels completly secondary. And afterthought, nothing more.
I think I would have forgiven more if this had been a straightforward cinematic style. When you go shakeycam, you live and die by it, in the plain realism of it. These guys wax philosophical, and jump in and out of first person POV to wide shots and quick cuts of scary images. The idea is to build atmosphere, but all it ends up doing is take me straight out of the movie. I can’t suspend my disbelief so easily when you jump styles like that. This just doesn’t work as a found footage movie. When we do have the shakycam going it was another one that made me sick to my stomach, but interestingly enough it would frequently be just….TOO good. Perfectly framed shots lit for the sheer soul of it……again, a found footage film just isn’t the place for this. It makes me wonder why they choose this form of storytelling in the first place.
The final nail in the coffin for this movie is the lack of monsters or any real threat. It’s all poorly constructed atmosphere, a few quick and simple scares but nothing significant. We get one evil shadow for about three seconds and a brief flash of the girl on the cover – that’s right : she’s not the main antagonist and is hardly in the film. Funny, marketing seemed to figure out what this movie needed far more than the filmmakers. Did I use the word “pretentious” yet?
Seriously, this movie reeks of it. From the beginning scene (which we cut back to occasionally) of the family and guests having a deeeeeep discussion around the family hooka (seriously) to the final shots of Oliver stone tipping his hat to the camera as his shadow walks away from him, this movie doesn’t earn any of it and it just kind of pisses me off.
The one thing that I neglected to mention in that original review, (perhaps it didn’t affect me that first time? I can’t imagine that’s the case) is the completely bonkers nature of the last 10 minutes or so. When they enter the chapel, all bets are off and it is the single scene in the film that is truly terrifying.
On the other hand, as pretentious and effete as the films dialogue is… The commentary track is twice as bad. I couldn’t get over how utterly pleased Stone and his friends are with themselves. There’s smugness, and a total head in the clouds sort of artistic obliviousnes. These guys are in their own world, and it’s crazy. They’ve convinced themselves that a significant amount of the film is real and it comes off as a bad episode of Ghost Hunters. I will say this, I’m pleased that I had the commentary and the alternate ending. It explains one of the story points that I completely missed…(because the film really isn’t that great and these guys were too busy making art to bother telling a story). The original ending is a little more cheap, cheesier and not as aesthetically pleasing, but on the other hand it actually wraps up the story much better and explains some of what happened.
I still can’t really recommend Greystone Park, but if you’re one of those people like me who came away from it confused when you watched it on Netflix, it’s worth grab them at the dollar tree just for that alternate ending and a little more explanation… Assuming you can swim through all the nonsense they spew without drowning. Good luck.
85% of the cast is under 25
Black and white greasepaint
Cover misrepresents the movie
something walks by in the background