Monday, April 2, 2012
Grave Encounters (2011) - Review
It's pretty clear from the beginning that this is pretty much an attempt to cash-in on the success of the Paranormal Activity films. And there's a reason that they are successful and this one wasn't. It actually starts off rather well. The first half is quite good; it introduces the show within the movie (a Ghost Hunters/Adventures type of show) well. The actors really capture that smug overconfidence that so many of the people from those shows possess. In fact, the actors are all pretty good and make the whole thing seem pretty real, much like the Paranormal Activity films.
The movie holds a surprising amount of tension in the early scenes at the old hospital. Where the film sort of falls apart is around halfway through when things actually start happening. Whereas Paranormal Activity relies on a build and release approach to its scares, this opts for the much less effective slow build. It doesn't really work in movies like this because it forces things to get too crazy by the end to be believable. On top of that, most of the scares don't really work due to the staggering predictability of the genre. Not to keep comparing it to Paranormal Activity, but in those films, the makers would deliberate shake up the timing of the scares to catch you off guard, but here it's mostly by the numbers and a bit too rhythmic to really be scary.
Overall it's not really an awful film, just an average one in a sea of average found footage movies. This is pretty competent and there are certainly some that are worse, but the Paranormal Activity series is far more well-made than this, so I would just stick with those.