Tribeca Film Festival 2011: “Grave Encounters”

A reality TV producer gets more than he counted on in "Grave Encounters."

I went into “Grave Encounters” thinking I was way ahead of it, much like the characters in the film itself.  I will admit that the movie hit me with some things that I did not see coming.  It is always nice when a film can do that.

The story concerns a cast and crew from a reality TV show, called “Grave Encounters,” whose gimmick is that it investigates ghosts.  The film purports to show actual footage of what happened to these investigators when they shot episode 6, which had them voluntarily locked, for the night, in an old, abandoned insane asylum, said to be haunted by ghosts of inmates past.

After a brief introduction the movie consists of what is purported to be uncut footage from the never completed episode.  Since the footage is uncut, we see the characters snickering over the phoniness of their “reality” show.  Then things begin to go “bump” in the night.  The tension builds and soon I, as well as the film’s characters, got more than what we bargained for.

“Grave Encounters” is a funny, smart, scary little movie.  The filmmakers, identified as the Vicious Brothers (Is there a better name for a pair of horror film directors?), certainly know their way around the conventions of reality TV and horror genres.  Their  film is certainly scarier and more credible than “The Blair Witch Project” (it’s most obvious influence) and has some good, unexpected, jolts.

I saw “Grave Encounters” at a sedate, sparsely attended noon screening.  It got some laughs but no shrieks.  To appreciate the full effect, this is a movie best seen at a midnight showing with a full audience.

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on April 29, 2011, in Tribeca Film Festival 2011. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree!! This film puts a very fresh spin on the reality, horror genre, and definitely should be seen. I did see it at a late screening, and the audience loved it, me too.

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