Grave Encounters (2011) – movie review

grave encounters pic 1

kinopoisk.ruGrave Encounters (2011)

I remember when this first came out, I was somewhat under whelmed with found footage films and shaky handheld camera SOV flicks. I think, in the couple of years that have past, I have become more accepting of them and see them as another style of film making in the field of cinema. When they are done right, found-footage films can offer an immediacy and intimacy that makes them feel genuine. When they’re done wrong, they just seem like a mess and act as a crutch for not having a good script.

So, now that I got Netflix, (yes congrats are in order), I felt I could try out this movie and I wouldn’t mind shutting it off in a half-hour if it proved to be anything less than enjoyable. I wouldn’t feel like I had wasted my money. I must say, to my surprise, I enjoyed Grave Encounters quite a bit.

A team of ghost investigators enter an abandoned mental institution for a night of EVPs, EMFs, and ghost chasing. If any of you are familiar with, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, and Most Haunted – shows that have been airing the last 10 years or so, you should know the routine. This one follows most closely to Ghost Adventures and the show host, Lance, even seems to get most of his cues and mannerisms from the real show host, Zakk Bagans.

grave-encounters pic 5The small crew journeys through the asylum with little results for their efforts. Lance even mentions that they should shoot some footage of the dark hallways just to get something spooky looking for the show. Just when they are about to pack it in, they begin to get some real signs of paranormal activity. From there the film successfully ramps up the suspense as the ghostly events escalate to a frightening level.

Without being a spoiler, let me just say there are a few things in this film that I have never seen done before and must commend the film makers for their original ideas and concepts. The scene with the tub and the scene where they finally break through the front door to leave were awesome. The only drawback would be, it takes a bit of time for the good scary stuff to develop. But if you have some patience, the film definitely pays off.  I would give this film a very high rating, close to Rec in my favorite found-footage film category. Great atmosphere, great haunted place feel, exceptional acting, jump scares, creepy tension, it has it all.

If you are accepting of the found-footage style and if you like haunted house/ghost stories – or if you’re a fan of the above mentioned ghost investigation programs, I would highly recommend Grave Encounters.

What I Watch on Television

What I Watch on Television
Ten Current Television shows I watch. In no particular order.
(non-sports) (must have had new seasons in the past year)


1) The Walking Dead
This is perhaps my favorite TV show of all time! I even like it better than the “6 Million Dollar Man vs. Bigfoot” episode and the “Fonz jumps a Tank of Sharks with his motorcycle” episode. (Obscure 70’s TV show references). This show is better than most Zombie movies and I can’t wait until Sunday nights, when I force my family to become mutes, (like Zombies), so I don’t miss one word or second of the show!

2) American Pickers
Like ‘The Antique Road Show’ but you get to watch these guys crawl and climb through barns and garages of hoarders’ junk, sometimes finding that one gem that is worth something. Also, I like to see them wheel and deal to negotiate prices with some hard-boiled eggs. I guess it is everyone’s wish that they have some item that is worth a bunch of money squirreled away in their garage or attic – Unfortunately, everything I ever saved is worth crap!

3) Operation Repo
I love that people default on their car loans then get MAD at the Repo guys whose job it is to pick up these vehicles by order of the banks. Do these people think they should own a new car for FREE?  It’s a thankless job and you got to be some tough sons-a-bitches to do it. A fun show to watch.

4) Fear Factor
This high-action, somewhat dangerous, beat the clock style, competition show is back on the air after a five year hiatus. I still like to watch people covered in snakes and spiders, eat hissing roaches, and hang upside-down from helicopters to grab flags off of buoys. Good stuff and its all over in an hour! (Unlike those never ending reality shows with all the voting and drama, uhg!).

5) Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution is an in-depth look at the history, evolution and individual sub- genres of hard rock and metal music. Host, Sam Dunn, has got everything right on the money using tons of interviews with music artists, journalists, and rare footage of bands, to tell the story of this music style. The 80’s ‘hair bands’ were only a small sliver of what metal music is all about, but it is what most people envision when they hear the term ‘metal’ (I would argue that much of the 80’s hair band music wasn‘t even ‘metal’ . It was ‘pop’ with loud guitars). This is a great music series now up to their 11th episode.

6) Man v. Food
Who can resist watching Adam Richman hunt down and devour the most juiciest meats, heftiest burritos, and burliest bar food in America. (OK, excluding vegans, and health food fanatics). After watching an episode yesterday, I had to call a half dozen diners to find one that made a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. It’s hard to watch the show and not get hungry. I fully intend to visit places that Adam has discovered and try for myself, those great-tasting foods they serve. I have a map with places of interest, all ready for my next road trip.

7) Scare Tactics
As much as I like being scared, there is one thing I like even better; watching other people be scared. Although this show is probably past its prime, they do come up with some great tricks, on this horror-themed, candid-camera-style, prank show.

8) Ghost Adventures
Ya’ know, there are a few of these shows on cable but it is the fact that Zakk, Nick and Aaron, seem to be enjoying themselves – that they get excited, goof on each other and have some laughs, while trying to detect the spirit world – that makes this show enjoyable to me. I used to watch Ghost Hunters, but that show has gotten so serious, it’s like watching a text book. Ghost Adventures seem to go to interesting places of historical importance, places that intrigue my imagination. And, they show enthusiasm for the things they see. I’m at the point where I don’t even care all that much about the evidence; people can avow or disclaim that, depending on their point of view. It is the adventure that I enjoy, the thought of possibilities, and the banter and excitement between the guys doing the investigation.

9) Celebrity Ghost Stories
I am a casual viewer of this show. I enjoy some of the tales from celebrities ranging from very famous to semi-famous. It is great fodder for the imagination and the show is done well enough to hold my interest.


10) The Daily Show
The best way to get news is through comedy like the news show John Stewart anchors/hosts on Comedy Central. In their quest for jokes and laughter, the writing teams do more research and fact finding than actual news shows on regular TV channels. Regular TV news in the US is now like press-release reading, relaying the facts from the sources in the exact way they want them delivered. With the downfall of newspaper journalists, I don’t know who is going to dig deep into the truth. TV today is all about sound-bites and ratings, not truth. Thank god the Daily Show digs deep to show the contradictions, hypocrisies, foibles, and quite often the real people behind the talking-head facades.

So, what does your list look like? Let’s hear it! Feel free to post yours in the comments.