Grave Encounters: Can I have My Time Back, Please?

It’s been forever since I graced BoxOfficeBoredom.com; not because I don’t want to. Believe me, I do! I’ve always loved talking film with people and venting on my own site. I quickly realized that I could never be a Matthew Parkinson. Give the kid a remote and a keyboard and watch him go. A review a day for what the last few years? More and more BoxOfficeBoredom is becoming “The Parkinson Movie Rant”– a site of equal awesomeness. The duties of being a father with a new job in a new city and state in the middle of busy season keeps me running on fumes. Mix that in with the former tenant of my new “home” who singlehandedly destroyed every living thing in my backyard and alas, it’s my original “baby”, BoxOfficeBoredom.com, that is forced to suffer. Well— that and my movie watching as of late.

I’ve always been intrigued by the Ghost Hunting shows that are on TV. From Ghost Hunters, to Ghost Adventures, to Ghost Lab, to Paranormal Detectives to Paranormal Pets (Does that show even exist?), I think I have seen an episode of them all. I’m a skeptic who will try to disprove everything I can with science. Every movie theater projectionist thinks their booth is haunted. I laugh and say it’s light play and the high electromagnetic fields causing a “fear cage” to those who are hyper sensitive and already creeped out by the dark doldrums of a booth. Usually the things that go bump in the night are loose pipes, settling houses, pests, auditory and visual matrixing and your imagination running wild. However, that doesn’t keep me from being intrigued by others finding voices and things that can not be explained. Perhaps the desire to discover something no one else has is what keeps me watching these shows– and keeps me trying to debunk them.

When Netflix put up the indie horror film, Grave Encounters, my interest was peaked. The film claimed to be a found footage type show much in the vein of things like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project that followed a group of paranormal investigators as they toured a haunted asylum. Having been intrigued by the shows it was implying it was replicating I decided to give it a try. Sadly the film takes a hard right and leaves you scratching your head early on.

The makers of Grave Encounters have never heard of the old saying that “less is more.” The film drones on for a short run time that seems like forever. I actually was intrigued for the first 1/2 hour and from then on it became a slow ride into stupidity. The film cosntantly felt the need to one up itself and show more and more cheesy effects and delve into some strange time shift plot that is never quite explained. Sadly enough as the credits rolled, I didn’t care that it wasn’t explained. Every scene became dumber than the one before it and all shock value was gone in no time.

What the directors, The Vicious Brothers (no- not kidding), didn’t get is that you don’t have to have things all played out to maximum capacity to be scary. There doesn’t need to be a twist, there doesn’t need to be a ton of mind play to make the film work. If you look at films like Paranormal Activity a simple opening/closing door or even a moving pool cleaner can insight terror. You don’t need to see a pale faced demon child opening the door cackling to make the film work. Let a viewer’s mind do the work for you. Instead they took a formula that others have used successfully and beat it to death with a blunt object, with the addition of about 500 different ways of dropping the “f” word in the process.

What Grave Encounters did do right was in the first 1/2 hour. The set up of the crew arriving, interviewing witnesses and giving the history of the asylum like a TV show behind the scenes look was actually quite promising. It was cool to see scenes where they coax “witnesses” and re-edit and film things to look like the place is more haunted than it very well could be. The directors hit this part of the film spot on, and the ability of the main actor, Sean Rogerson, to channel his inner Zack Baggins from Ghost Adventures was quite amazing. He played the perfect egocentric, overexaggerating blowhard that anyone who watches Ghost Adventures knows Baggins is. But that simply is not enough to save the film.

With a terrible storyline and terribly executed scares, Grave Encounters became one of those films I could care less about. In fact, I realized I actually wanted my time back. The only scary thing in Grave Encounters that went bump in the night were the clunky scenes used to advance and already horrific plot. I like to think that the Vicious Brothers thought they were making a “horrific” film, not a “horror” film. At least it explains the result.

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