Fearful Friday: Grave Encounters

Remember “Paul’s Horror Flix?” It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any horror films for the site, and I kinda miss talking about films in my favorite genre, especially with Pauloween coming up in just a month and a half (as long time readers know, Pauloween is a month-long event, not just October 31st!).  Well, it’s about damn time we brought the tradition of chatting about our favorite scary flicks back to IoM, starting each Friday with FEARFUL FRIDAYS (check out previous horror reviews here).

First off, Grave Encounters, a “found footage” horror movie due out October 18th on DVD. In the movie, a group of paranormal investigators, similar to television’s popular Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures shows, investigates a haunted hospital. Though the site housed some pretty tragic events when filled with the living, since it’s been abandoned, folks have been seeing eerie apparitions and hearing odd noises. As we’re told, this is the sixth episode of the aborted “Grave Encounters” tv series, and gathered from the raw footage filmed during their visit there.

Full review after the jump.

Grave Encounters is a genuinely creepy little movie. I’d heard relatively little about the movie, though it actually has shown at a couple of film festivals (including Tribeca) and been met with fairly positive reviews. I really feel that the flick would benefit from a push similar to the one Paranormal Activity received a couple of years ago. Especially since it largely would appeal to the same audience.

The thing that differentiates Encounters from the aforementioned Activity is really in the subtlety. Whereas the latter film goes for more subtle horror throughout the film, relying more on what you don’t see (until the very final shot), Encounters starts off that way then, about halfway in, goes whole hog into full spectracl manifestations. You get violent ghosts and some other great ideas, like an ever changing haunted house that adds to the overall creep factor.

However, it’s the film’s aggressive nature that is also where it falters. When I say aggressive, I mean in its idea to “show the ghosts…and repeatedly.” There’s something to be said for not giving too much away, as not every special effect works effectively (mostly due to overuse of CG), and it also begs the question as to why this is happening to this particular group of people. After all, hundreds of people have experienced phenomena in the facility — why is it so aggressive with just them?

Still, the flaws in the film are FAR outweighed by what works. It’s VERY scary, and, even with CG, the jump scares are effective. While I think 5-10 minutes could have been trimmed out of it, it’s also nice to see a movie that you don’t have to wait 45 minutes into to see something scary happen. The ghosts are angry, and they’re definitely willing to kill. I’d think of Grave Encounters as a mix of Paranormal Activity and House on Haunted Hill. Fans of either of those films should definitely check it out.

Paul's Awesomeness Score - 7 out of 10

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