[31 Days of Halloween] Day Eight: ‘Grave Encounters’ Delivers the ChillsOctober 10, 2019
A large part of what makes supernatural horror so scary is that it tends to prey on our fear of the unknown. Which means a high level of unpredictability, both in crafting scares and because of the fact that the supernatural threat isn’t something that’s easy to fight off through conventional means. You can’t exactly bludgeon a ghost with a baseball bat. After a while, though, haunted houses and ghostly tales can feel recycled. Particularly if its one told through found footage, a subgenre of horror that tends to elicit eye rolls and yawns more often than not these days.
With 2011’s Grave Encounters, the very setup is one that seems familiar…at first. But it quickly becomes clear that filmmakers Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz had something a little different in mind, as well as a level of self-awareness. And with the film, they deliver on scares in a big way.
Synopsis: TV series host Lance Preston and his crew of ghost hunting reality show “Grave Encounters” are filming an episode set around the infamously haunted Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. They lock themselves in for the night, and set about capturing their paranormal investigation on camera. But the further the night wears on, the more their sanity unravels as they realize not only might the place be actually haunted, it might very well be alive.
Key Players: As the core team that ventures into the haunted asylum, Sean Rogerson plays lead Lance Preston, Ashleigh Gryzko is occult specialist Sasha Parker, Juan Riedinger plays surveillance operator Matt White, cameraman T.C. Gibson is played by Merwin Mondesir, and Mackenzie Gray portrays fake medium Houston Gray.
Why It’s on the List: Found footage films featuring a group of characters poking their nose in the exact spot they shouldn’t feel like they’re a dime a dozen, right? Luckily, the filmmakers toss subtlety out the window in favor of fun, in your face chills that stick their landing. They also know how to stretch their meager budget; the ghosts of past patients in this asylum play a major role in inducing goosebumps. The unique mythology behind the Collingswood Psychiatric Hospital adds a fascinating new layer to typical haunted habitations, too. Found footage horror became popular because of its ability to unsettle and terrify, and Grave Encounters succeeds in that department big time. Sometimes you just want a good scare, and this pick scratches that itch.
Scariest Moment: Well, one of many, but this moment marks the film’s first massive jump scare. An encounter with a former patient, no less…
Where You Can Watch: Grave Encounters isn’t available to stream for free currently, but it is available to cheaply rent on digital over on Vudu.