|Directed by||The Vicious Brothers|
|Produced by||Twin Engine Films
Digital Interference Productions
|Written by||The Vicious Brothers|
Matthew K McBride
|Music by||Quynne Craddock|
|Edited by||The Vicious Brothers|
|West Wing Studios|
|Distributed by||Tribeca Film Festival|
|Running time||95 minutes|
Grave Encounters is a 2011 Canadian supernatural horror film, shot found footage style. The footage follows the crew of a paranormal reality television program who lock themselves in a haunted psychiatric hospital in search of evidence of paranormal activity as they shoot what ends up becoming their final episode.
Written and directed by The Vicious Brothers (Collin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz), the film premiered on April 22, 2011 at the Tribeca Film Festival and received mostly mixed reviews. The film was released on August 25, 2011 in select theaters using the Eventful Demand It and Video on Demand via Comcast. The film premiered internationally in Italy via distributor Eagle Pictures under the title ESP Fenomeni Paranormali on June 1, 2011.
Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film has received a cult following and spawned a sequel in 2012. It was filmed in Riverview Hospital, a mental institute in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
The film begins with Jerry Hartfield (Ben Wilkinson) the producer of Grave Encounters, a famous ghost investigation television series. Jerry explains the premise of Grave Encounters and introduces the host, Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson). Preston explains that he started the TV series because he lived in a haunted house as a child and now he travels around the world looking for paranormal evidence. Hartfield explains that Grave Encounters was cancelled after the fifth episode, when the footage for episode six mysteriously went missing. The footage was finally recovered in 2010 and brought to Hartfield.
The film stars Lance Preston, Sasha Parker (Ashleigh Gryzko), an occult specialist, Matt White (Juan Riedinger), cameraman T.C Gibson (Merwin Mondesir) and Houston Grey (Mackenzie Gray). They were investigating the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. It was built in 1895 and was open for over 68 years, until the hospital was closed in 1963, an estimated 80,000 patients were treated. Since its closure, many instances of paranormal activity had been reported there.
The hospital's caretaker let the film makers into the locked building, through doors above which are inscribed 'Death Awaits'. The caretaker gives them a tour of the hospital, including an empty bathroom where a female patient committed suicide in a bathtub, a window on the top floor that opens by itself, a hallway said to be haunted by a bald man in a lab coat, and a room with writing on the walls.
Later that night, the Grave Encounters crew set up their equipment and began an overnight surveillance while locked inside hospital. Splitting up to investigate, Lance's group unsuccessfully tries to contact the bathroom suicide girl. At 2:10 a.m, the team reconvenes in the lobby. All their equipment shows nothing unusual, except for a fourth floor camera, which shows the window opening, but none of the crew notices it. Later, cameraman T.C Gibson continued to film the hospital's corridors. T.C is interrupted by his cell phone and while talking, misses a wheelchair moving by itself down the corridor. He feels a cold spot and enters a room, but is surprised when the door slams shut. T.C assumes this was a prank, but after looking for someone from his team, he realizes he's alone. T.C shows the footage to the rest of the team and they attempt to communicate with whatever made the door shut. They are unsuccessful, but Lance hears a loud bang coming from elsewhere. The team investigate the noise, entering into a room where they see a trolley turned over. They then heard loud footsteps from the floor above. Sasha, decides to perform an EVP session upstairs. An unexplained noise is heard and some of Sasha’s hair is lifted by an unseen hand. Lance discovers apparitions and orbs in the pictures he took during this occurrence.
At 4:51 a.m, Lance tells Matt to gather all of the remaining cameras set around the hospital. Matt collects the night vision cameras, but when he reaches the fourth floor, he finds the window open. Sensing that this is important, Matt tries to contact Lance to investigate. He then hears a loud bang and goes to investigate.
At 5:32 a.m Lance notices that Matt is still gone, but is unsuccessful in reaching him on the radio. Sasha thinks Matt is hurt somewhere in the darkness and she insists on looking for him. Lance and T.C agreed, leaving Houston alone in the lobby. Lance, Sasha and T.C find Matt's equipment sprawled out on the fourth floor. The team decides to split up to find Matt as quickly as possible. While searching, T.C climbs the stairs, but is startled by a loud noise and is pushed from behind. He is injured in the fall down the stairs and calls to the rest of the team, who take him to the lobby. T.C then suggests that there is something in the hospital that was playing around with them, but is starting to get violent.
At 6:19 a.m, T.C unsuccessfully tries to open the hospital's doors with Lance reluctantly helping. He tries to call the groundskeeper but finds there is no cellphone reception, and decides he will not wait for the groundskeeper to show up. Suddenly, the doors open, but not to the outside. Instead, they lead to another hospital corridor, however Sasha points out that the double doors have the same graffiti "Death Awaits" from the entrance, implying it has to be the same door they entered. They find a new exit, but that, too, leads to another corridor. Confused and scared, Lance asks Sasha what time it is. Sasha finds that it is 8:34 a.m. Although the sun was to rise at 7:45 a.m, it was still dark outside. After finding no escape from the hospital, the team heads back to the lobby to try and sleep.
A light falls and smashes, waking the team hours later. Lance tells everyone it is 3:00 pm, they had slept for seven hours. Lance opens the cooler to find all of the food had rotted and was infested with maggots, after only a few hours, but that they do have plenty of water left. T.C has the idea of escaping using the fire escape located on the roof. As the team walks the corridors they hear more loud bangs.The group locates the rooftop exit, but a solid concrete wall blocks them from progressing. Suddenly, they hear screaming that could be the missing Matt. The team follows the screams to a room where a bed is suspended in midair. Terrified, they hide in a different room. Lance explains to the camera that the corridors keep changing.
After falling asleep again, the team wakes up to find that the word 'HELLO' scratched into Sasha's back. Lance then hears Matt on the radio, but it is cut off. The team realizes that Matt is alive somewhere in the hospital, and so they search for him once more. They see a distant shadow running down the corridor and, thinking it is Matt, they follow it to another room. The figure is not Matt, but a girl standing and facing the corner. Lance attempts to talk to her, but she turns around and reveals a terrifying, screaming face. The team runs away, but Houston is left behind when the flashlight dies. He is shown on one of the corridor cameras wandering around in the dark trying to find the others. Suddenly, he is hoisted into the air, semi-strangled and then dropped to the floor. When he tries to get up, an explosion sends his body flying violently down the corridor, killing him on impact.
T.C, Sasha and Lance hide in another room and realize that they now have patient I.D. wristbands with their names and medical information perfectly placed on them, which leads to Sasha and T.C becoming upset. They decide to look for both Matt and Houston. Sasha is grabbed by a ghostly hand which breaks through the window panel in a door behind her and soon feels weak. The team finds Matt in a room, wearing a hospital gown. Matt, who appears mentally unstable at this point, claims to know a way out of the hospital. To leave, the team just has to get better. Sasha falls asleep while the crew relaxes and is again attacked by arms coming out of the walls. They flee and hide in the bathroom. Lance hears water dripping and sees the bathtub is now filled with blood. Matt is curiously looking over the bathtub. T.C tries to pull Matt away, but is grabbed into the bathtub by a female apparition. Sasha and Lance immediately flip the tub over, but T.C is gone.
Sasha, Matt, and Lance continue looking for an exit, and hurry through a hallway with soft growling noises. They find an out-of-order elevator, but cannot open the door. Lance decides to venture back to the previous halls to look for something to pry open the door. He looks in a room with writing on the walls and grabs a metal rod from a bed, but notices a puddle of blood with a human tongue in it. When he looks up, a bald patient stares at him and screams. Lance escapes from the patient and manages to pry open the elevator. The patient then attacks Lance, but Sasha helps keep the patient away by shutting the double-doors. Matt leans forward to look down the elevator shaft and carries on leaning until he falls, committing suicide. The patient disappears, so Sasha and Lance climb down a ladder to the bottom of the shaft and find that Matt is dead. Lance then pries open a door to a service tunnel. The two advance through the tunnel, but Lance realizes that they should have hit some sort of junction a long time ago. Later in the tunnel, Sasha becomes violently sick and starts throwing up blood. Noticing that she could not keep up, Lance decides they should stop and rest.
A heavy mist covers them as they sleep in the tunnel. When the mist clears, Sasha is gone. Lance is left alone in the dark. Several scenes follow as his mental health spirals out of control leading him to eating rats while laughing at the demonic cackling surrounding him from everywhere, chanting words on walls that he read, and his flashlight going out. He eventually stops filming. Lance turns the camera back on after finding a door to an operating room. This was the secret operating room of Dr. Arthur Friedkin, who performed unethical experiments on Collingwood's patients. Lance finds pictures of patients being experimented on, along with pictures of the Grave Encounters team also being experimented on. Lance also finds evidence of satanic rituals and black magic which Friedkin performed. Lance turns around while looking at an alter to see Friedkin and several nurses performing a lobotomy on one of the team members, having appeared out of nowhere. Rushing forward, Lance trips on a skull and as he looks up, Friedkin is looking down on him. The camera then falls and Lance's pleads that he's not crazy as violent sounds and Lance's screams are heard before the camera cuts out. Again, the camera is turned back on, showing Lance is still alive, although his eye is bleeding from a lobotomy. Lance's final words were ‘He said I’m all better now. I can finally go home. For Grave Encounters, Lance Preston. Signing off.’ The camera then cuts out.
- Sean Rogerson as Lance Preston
- Ashleigh Gryzko as Sasha Parker
- Merwin Mondesir as T. C. Gibson
- Mackenzie Gray as Houston Grey
- Juan Riedinger as Matt White
- Arthur Corber as Dr. Arthur Friedkin
- Bob Rathie as Kenny Sandavol (Caretaker)
- Matthew K. McBride as Spiritual Force
- Ben Wilkinson as Jerry Hartfield
- Alex Timmer as The Tongueless Demon
- Eva Gifford as Demon Girl
- Michele Cummins as Bathtub Demon
- Shawn Macdonald as Morgan Turner
- Fred Keating as Gary Crawford
- Max Train as Punk Guy
- Marita Eason as Punk Girl
- Luis Jamer as Javier Ortega
Grave Encounters was filmed in Riverview Hospital, which has been the location for a many other television and film-based productions, and released on October 18, 2011 on DVD. The film came out for full digital download on iTunes on December 19, 2011.
Grave Encounters has received mixed reviews from critics. While the New York Press granted it the "Scariest Film Since The Ring", other reviews were not as favorable. The rating website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a "rotten" score of 50%.