Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Grave Encounters (2011) Canada/US

Just how many other movie ideas can you rip off and cram into one and call it an 'original' movie that you made? This was actually liked when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. I guess they've never seen any other of this type of movie before, because scene to scene it is a freaking copy of every BAD boogeyman movie you've ever sat through (or walked out of).I was disappointed too, because I thought this was going to be one of those mocking type movies where they show just how much crap all these 'ghost hunting' shows are - you know, people running around with night vision cameras saying things like 'Did it just get cold in here?' ' Did you see that?' 'Did you hear that?' 'What was that?' 'If someone is there, please tell us.' and so on and so on ad nauseam. I'm not going to pick on anybody who likes to watch those shows, just saying I can't believe cheap dime store crap like that sells so damn well.

Grave idiots...
It starts with a producer talking about a great new show, Grave Encounters, that a young troupe was making of which they really liked the first five episodes. But then there was episode six. So now you know this is going to be a 'found footage' film, shot mostly in the dark, and trading on every other movie (or TV show) of its kind and nothing is going to be even slightly original about it. I made a partial list of movies this rips ideas from: Blair Witch Project, House On Haunted Hill (the remake), House Of Bones, Cloverfield, Poltergeist, Th13teen Ghosts, and so on. I could probably think of more if my freaking head would stop hurting - I broke my glasses and am wearing an old pair so I can almost see, just makes me nauseous. Which was actually a perfect way to describe this drek. Gives you a headache and makes you nauseous. And here we go:

"Let's see if I can redo that take without laughing."
This ultra-smart crew of ghost hunters, including a psychic (said with massive sarcasm) lock themselves in a supposed haunted psychiatric hospital. Instant duh there to have yourself locked in, but I guess we were supposed to be impressed by their bravado. Of course since their show is a scam and they know it's a scam (since this is found footage they left it unedited) they're not worried a bit. In fact, after certain takes, especially with the supposed 'psychic' they bust out laughing at how over-the-top it all is. They even bribe an Hispanic gardener to say he'd been there for years and seen ghosts outside the building, even though he had just started on the job. No true believers here. And the psychic is just some actor who wants to get out first thing in the morning because he has a movie audition to go to.

Do you like me like this?
Or Like This?
Like all deserted psychiatric hospitals (at least all those portrayed in fiction), the Collingwood hospital had a nasty reputation. Thousands were imprisoned there, the facility has several buildings, an underground tunnel connecting them all, and the doctor was killed by his own patients after he had performed countless lobotomies and who knows what else atrocities these psych docs get accused of in these movies. Then of course patients were moved, the place shut down. Same old, same old. 

The caretaker says he will be there at six the next morning to let them out. Even though it is still light, the place is really dark and the caretaker says it becomes pitch black at night. So you know it's going to be flashes of 'Ahhh!' mixed with a whole lot of dark nothing. Funny how there are people who work on the building and regularly go there, but other than reporting 'noises' or claiming they saw 'something' nothing horrible happens to them. So our fearless crew of five set up cameras, computers and all their ghost hunting gear and the movie just.... stalls. They look around everywhere - hear a couple of noises, but nothing interesting. The 'psychic' implores the spirits to make themselves known. I wanted to implore him to stop over-acting. Or just disappear. Both would have been good. 

Throughout their 'investigation' the leader, Lance Preston keeps making those overblown, unnecessary comments about everything they're doing, which in itself is extremely irritating and the bouncing hand held cameras doesn't help any. Although all claim to be 'experts' at what they do, they clearly know just enough to get away with doing this show. After all, in their five episodes, good as the producer claimed they were, they never had any 'real' paranormal stuff happen (Sound familiar?).

Finally things start to happen. Doors open (ooh), a window opens (scary), a gurney overturns (well, that must prove it then) and finally, after pleading again for somebody, something to communicate with them, something lifts the girl's hair. Like five-year-olds they all run screaming back to the lobby where their stuff is. The noises get louder and they realize that they're pissing off - something. Uh huh.

Geez, they could have just left a note.
When they get back they start to pack - it's a half hour before the caretaker is to show up. They send the main cameraman, Matt, to gather up the cameras by himself. And being movie stupid and not paying attention to every horror movie rule there is, he does. And vanishes. They look for him and find camera equipment strewn everywhere, but he's gone. Walkie talkies aren't working either (or cell phones - they forgot that horror movie rule too). They're too scared by the raised hair incident to go look for him. Nice. Finally they get up the guts to try. 

They spend the next several hours looking for Matt. The time for the caretaker to let them out has passed, and he never shows. Two of them break open the door they came in - it leads to another hallway. Thinking they chose the wrong door, they look on the other side. The girl Sasha points to graffiti on the door, the same graffiti they saw when they first went in. This is the door out, or was. Frantically they look for another way. They find an emergency exit - nope, more hallway. 

One noticed while filming outside that there was a fire ladder extending down from the roof. They climb up several flights of stairs, even seeing a 'fire exit' sign, but it dead ends into a wall. They're not going anywhere. Lance takes a shot of the food in the cooler they brought - it looks like the food has been rotting for months, maggots and all. Time now has absolutely no meaning to any of them, and they have no idea what the real time is or even what day it is.

They finally notice although they guess it's past nine in the morning, inside the hospital it's still the middle of the night. And no caretaker. They had tried to get some sleep and actually passed out for seven hours, but when they woke up, Sasha is found to have the word 'Hello' carved into her back. And that didn't wake her up? Hell, a sneeze would have woken me, much left being carved like a turkey. Having no other choice, they keep looking for Matt and finally get their first 'apparition' - a female patient in a corner who turns around and then - say it with me, you know as well as I do - her face contorts into something evil and she screeches. They run again like little kids, and they don't say it, but probably more than one wet themselves. 

Jumping down a shaft gets me out of this movie?

Why didn't you say so?
They get separated from the psychic, Houston, who is in total darkness, not having a camera or flashlight. While in a hall (which conveniently has one of the cameras still set up) we see him first being lifted up and choked, then thrown against the ceiling with such force that it kills him. The rest hide themselves in a closet, and they ain't coming out. They now realize that the hospital keeps changing around them - no matter where they go or how many stairs they climb, they're still on the first floor. Now we get serious Blair Witch action, complete with crying, snot, the whole nine yards. 

I was waiting for Lance to say 'I'm sorry I'm so sorry' but he still is in TV mode and keeps telling the others he's only filming things (and himself) because others will 'want to know'. They fall asleep, as they've now been there quite a while - the men are beginning to sport serious facial hair. When they wake this time, all are wearing hospital identification bracelets with their names on them. That was actually a nice touch and the only original idea in the whole damn film.

Finally, hearing screams and crying they find Matt, who is wearing a hospital gown and has been driven insane, mumbling nonsense about his apparent psychological disorder, and explaining that the only way for them to escape is for them to 'get better'. The next to go is member T.C., who is pulled into a bathtub that had previously been on its side but is now upright and full of blood. Okay, pretty direct ripoff of HOHH . They tip over the tub to get him, but he's disappeared. Presumed dead. 

They find an elevator, and Lance has the brilliant idea of getting to the tunnels and going to another building, like that's going to help. He pries open the door, but before they can take the elevator shaft stairs to the bottom, Lance is attacked by another increasingly violent apparition, and Sasha runs to help him. While they do that the camera, being on the floor, captures Matt deliberately diving down the elevator shaft to his death. Lance and Sasha enter the tunnels in search of another exit, wandering for hours where Sasha, who starts vomiting blood, disappears in a mist that appears while she and Lance sleep.

The movie's over so I feel much better now...
Lance continues through the tunnels alone until he finds a door leading to Friedkin's operating room that contains an altar and pentagram for a demonic ritual. Oh goodie, now we've got the whole black magic with the pentagram, candles and a black alter rigmarole. All psych doctors keep one of those in their operating rooms, right? Then another blatant ripoff of HOHH - the camera shows Friedkin and several nurses operating on someone. C'mon, think of something a little more inventive, will ya? But hey, it's almost over so... the camera is dropped and so we see only glimpses, hearing Lance screaming as they drag him away. The last scene is of a drowsy Lance, blood coming from one eye which means I guess he got lobotomized, saying that he's better now and he gets to go home. The end.

The end? How and when did they 'find' all this footage? Where were the bodies, if any? What was the whole point of this? Oh yeah, sorry I forgot - in TBWP they just disappear into thin air too. Silly me. Why end it on an original note when nothing else was?