For The Love Of Film is UTG’s newest creation from film nerd and lover of all movies Justin Proper. Sometimes you need some help to figure out how to enjoy movies, and we are here to help! No longer will you need to fear movie night because your friends have no taste in film. With this column you will be able to love even the worst gems to ever grace the silver screen.
Found footage horror movies are pretty hit or miss (mostly miss). For every Blair Witch there are five Quarantines. Ok, it really is more like for every Blair Witch there are twenty Quarantines but I like found footage movies, so I am a bit biased. Grave Encounters is definitely one of my favorite horror series of the last few years, despite the fact that the films are considered “bad” by most critics. Hopefully by the end of this column you will at least give it a chance, I think it is absolutely worth it.
Grave Encounters is about a ghost hunting show that shoots an episode in an abandoned insane asylum that is supposedly haunted. It starts slow but then ghosts happen and things get crazy. I mean really crazy. Because it is an insane asylum. Needless to say, things do not go well for the ghost hunting crew.
The second movie (Grave Encounters 2) starts out with people talking about the first movie. That is right, the sequel to Grave Encounters acknowledges that the first movie is just a movie. Or at least that is how it starts. The premise for the sequel is that a film student is convinced that the first movie was real, so he goes to the asylum to get proof. Believe it or not, but things also do not go well for him and his friends. Then things get even weirder. I cannot even begin to describe how off the wall things get, but the stuff that happens in the second film make the first film even better.
Why are these movies considered “bad”? Well, there are plenty of reasons. First of all, these movies are low budget. Like most low budget movies (especially of the horror genre) the Grave Encounters series has some very mediocre acting and cheap special effects. It is also not being revolutionary by having a found footage gimmick, this is becoming more and more common because it is a perfect format for low budget. The second movie in particular is plagued by these critiques because it seems like it is the same movie as the first on the surface.
I’m not alone in thinking these movies are great. Just check out this piece James Shotwell wrote on the second movie for our 31 Days Of Halloween. The found footage aspect of these films may not be original, but they are more than just a gimmick. In the first movie it is found footage because it is supposed to be like the ghost hunting tv shows, which are shot first person. The second movie is a documentary format, which is also shot in that style. In a sense it is still just a cheap way to get around the cheap budget, but at least they made the reasons behind it work really well.
The best part about the Grave Encounters series is the setting. The haunted insane asylum is one of the best haunted places I have ever seen in a movie. The desolate hallways are loaded with doors so the suspense is always building. You never know what could be waiting in the next room. Abandoned wheelchairs and gurneys litter the grounds and there is even some creepy bathtubs where a patient at the hospital supposedly slit her own wrists. The legend goes that a crazy doctor used to perform experiments and rituals on the patients which leaves behind spirits so tortured they have no choice but to terrorize anyone who comes to the place. Plus there is this super creepy tunnel under the building that you just know leads to awesome scares.
If you give both of the Grave Encounters movies a chance I think you will be surprised. They are not the most innovative movies, and certainly not the first to use a haunted asylum as their settings, but together they form a very interesting story that will keep you guessing until the end. Even then there is a good chance you will have more questions. Make sure you check them out, especially considering it is almost Halloween.
Justin Proper is totally not a ghost trying to trick you into watching a haunted video tape. You can follow him on Twitter.