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Bob Doto [Film Festival 05.03.11] movie review horror

Year: 2011
Directors: The Vicious Brothers
Writers: The Vicious Brothers
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Bob Doto
Rating: 7 out of 10

The Vicious Brothers' (that's their name) GRAVE ENCOUNTERS is a frightening romp told through the lens of a typical ghost-chasing reality show that gets considerably more than it's bargained for. It begins with the crew of Grave Encounters, lead by the very opportunistic Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson), mucking around their latest location, an abandoned insane asylum, trying to make a story where there appears to be none. The crew pays people to refer to ghost sightings they never saw, and bring in an expert energy worker to feel for otherworldly presences. They also capture spooky stock footage that they can later cut in when needed. Eventually, all this farce comes crashing down, when members of the crew go missing, the building they are shooting in disturbs the space-time continuum, and malevolent spirit ultra-violence erupts.

To say that GRAVE ENCOUNTERS is terrifying is a slight understatement. I'd say my breathing was short and shallow for about one-hour straight. The Vicious Brothers are masters-in-training when it comes to suspense, and have got their tension-release chops wound nice and tight. Once the action starts, there are few moments of peace.

Much of this tension is achieved by employing limited light sources. Like many a ghost-chaser reality show, night vision is king, and GRAVE ENCOUNTERS uses it liberally. At other times only a flashlight is employed, along with the always-feared-to-go-out camera light. Shots are narrow and panning to locate the source of disturbing voices and crashes is a troubled affair, as the hemmed ring of visibility keeps you forever wondering where the next fright is going to come. As such, there is something almost Ancient Greek theater in the film's use of off-screen violence. In the case of GRAVE ENCOUNTERS, less is definitely more.

Despite all the greatness, however, the film does have a number of glitches. While Mackenzie Gray shines as a fake-tanned spirit medium, the deliveries of many of the cast seem to over-stretch their talents. Rogerson performs very nicely when in-character as the show's lead, but comes off too much a clichéd parody when caught behind the scenes planting fake shots. I felt as if the Vicious Brothers underestimated the audience and how much we already assumed these shows to be more or less phony.

There were also a number of intended to be frightening motifs that either made me chuckle, or at one point actually cringe, seeing as one particular shot was more or less directly lifted from The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Think: melting faces, an absolutely terrifying sight to be sure, but one that has already ben used to classic ends.

Depending on how much of this reality TV genre you're willing to put up with, GRAVE ENCOUNTERS is either another nail in the coffin, or a welcome twist. The genre itself seems to be fighting for it's right to exist, and it's hard to say whether or not it will continue to captivate viewers. Personally, I feel the Vicious Brothers do a noteworthy job of flipping the genre back in on itself. And, so long as the brothers don't get too excitable, and keep their biting to a minimum (there's a difference between nodding to and stealing from) I'd say we're in for more quality mayhem.

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Heather (8 years ago) Reply

How is the gore level in this one? My mother is obsessed with these haunting movies, but she cant stand the sight of blood in movies. Judging from the pic above, there seems to be at least a little blood. Is this frequent?


BobDoto (8 years ago) Reply

Hmmm... That's a good question. I'd say there's a tad bit of post-mortem gore, but no real visuals of hands getting chopped off in plain sight or anything like that. Some blood.


Anonymous (8 years ago) Reply

Not only did this film lift shots directly from EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, but it blatantly stole shots from other films. How about the "person facing the corner" scare from BLAIR WITCH? That's there. As is the "we found his tongue" scene from BLAIR WITCH. So is the "turn the video camera around to see a doctor operating on a patient before said doctor looks into the camera" from the HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remake. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY's "flying body" gag is also replicated.

Save your money. This is not an original film by any means. It plays as a low-rent "best of" from some of the last decades scariest films. You'd be better served watching those other movies. There is nothing vicious about the "Vicious Brothers." They claim that horror gets a bad rep for its lack of originality. Rather than reverse the situation, they seem to seek to prove its truth.


(8 years ago) Reply

its hard to make something completely new, everything has been done before so.. I tought it was a great movie! When it actually turned dark outside i couldnt watch the last 20 mins without a light on.


chantal (8 years ago) Reply

where can i find this online to watch? it's no where!


default (8 years ago) Reply

I love a good horror movie.....but this sucked!!! I agree they took stuff from other movies,come on people let's get original!!! I can't believe I spent $6.99 on demand to see this.(if feel you really must see this wait till it's on cable and you can see it for FREE)!!!


Cletus (8 years ago) Reply

Not scary, hated the characters, and brings nothing new to the table. I agree with those that say this genre of 'found video' is bankrupt. I'll be in therapy for years just to figure out why I watched the whole thing, although I did fast forward through the later parts.


kckatt (7 years ago) Reply

Is this movie too violent for 13 year olds who love horrow films? I can't find the sexual content which is the only problem I would have with them watching it!


(7 years ago) Reply

I love horror movies, especially the pov movies(the last exorcism, paranormal activity, etc), but this was an awful movie. Paranormal stuff normally freaks me out, but this was real snoozefest. Don't waste your time.


(7 years ago) Reply

just watched this, thought it was legit at first... but just got funny after awhile. There is no sexual content. Alot of cussing towards the end of the movie though. Also, I thought the Lance guy was a horrible actor.

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