Grave Encounters: A Skeptic's Tour of the Supernatural Or is It?
More mockbuster than mockumentary, this bogus and blatant pilfering of both The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity from first-time filmmakers Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz (under the moniker of "The Vicious Brothers") allegedly comprises "raw footage, strictly edited for time," but fool us again, and the shame's on us. In the infamous, unaired sixth episode of a ghost-hunting reality show, cocksure host Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) and his crew of jaded camera operators and phony experts investigate a haunted psychiatric hospital in Maryland and prove their behind-the- scenes skepticism toward all things supernatural via snarky asides or in buying off a groundskeeper to lie about what lurks in the labyrinthine basement. The foreseeable gimmick is that the joint really is spooked, but Grave Encounters can't have it both ways: It's easy to cheer on the demise of obnoxiously smug nonbelievers in monochromatic night vision, except the film later tries to elicit sympathy from their shattered first-person confessionals. Windows quietly open, wheelchairs roll, faces contort into cheesy CGI ghouls, and "digital artifacts" cover up the low-budget seams. But true terror needs at least some authenticity. That's perhaps too much to ask of a faked movie about a faked reality show that still can't scare up a fresh idea.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.