You know a horror movie is done well when you have to sleep with all the lights switched on and a crowbar under the covers.
That is what happened to me on Sunday night. A colleague recommended the mockumentary style horror film Grave Encounters and since I love all things horror I decided to give it a go. The concept was simple. A group of reality television paranormal investigators decide to spend the night locked in an abandoned insane asylum and film their findings through a collection of high-tech night vision cameras. Nothing very original plot wise from the get-go but that is where the film fools you. It lulls you into a false sense of desensitized security because it is all very familiar. If you’re a fan of ghost hunting or reality TV you may think that you have already seen this. You know what the outcome is going to be.
So you think. So I thought.
I made the mistake of watching this movie alone at midnight with the lights turned off.
This was me for the remaining five hours until the sun came up.
The film, which came out in 2011, has gained an underground following as well as well-deserved respect from the horror community fan base. Better than the Paranormal Activity franchise and out-strips the notoriety of the Blair Witch Project, Grave Encounters is a finely crafted masterpiece of precision scares, highly realistic character delivery, grade A storyline, and perfect timing. The build-up eggs you along and by the time you finally get to the end you are rooted to the couch out of honest to goodness fear because somewhere between the midway point to nowhere you forgot that what you are watching is in fact a work of fiction. This event never occurred. The characters who face off with the psychological terror that comes with a place known for unspeakable horrors are just that. The fear that you have been feeding off is nothing but the creation of expert storytellers.
But it feels so real.
So if you decide to give this film a try keep these in the back of your mind. Stay the heck away from condemned buildings with a well-known documented history of traumatic events, never ever lock the door behind you, always have more than one way out, do not mock the dead, deserted psych wards are to be avoided at all costs, never split up, always carry an extra phone and batteries for your flashlight, never challenge a vengeful spirit outright, and if the screaming starts and you don’t know where your friends are….