Theatrical release poster
|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|
|Distributed by||Tribeca Film Festival|
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 introduces the host, Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson). 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, occult specialist Sasha Parker, surveillance operator Matt White, cameraman T.C. Gibson and fake medium Houston Grey. They are investigating the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where an estimated 80,000 patients were treated. Since its closure, many instances of paranormal activity had been reported there.
The hospital's caretaker gives them a tour of the hospital. Later that night, the crew set up their equipment and began an overnight surveillance while locked inside the hospital. At first, everything is quiet, but soon weird things begin to happen, such as odd noises and doors slamming shut on their own. While T.C puts down his camera to take a phone call from his wife, the camera catches footage of a wheelchair moving on its own behind him. Lance takes several photos, which show apparitions and orbs, though this is only seen by the viewer. Later, while retrieving the surveillance cameras that he had set up, Matt goes missing. As the team looks for him, T.C. is pushed from the stairs and injured. He suggests to the team that there was something in the hospital playing with them, but is now getting violent.
At 6:19 a.m, T.C. tries to open the hospital's doors. The doors open, but to another hospital corridor instead of the outside. Later, Sasha finds that it is 8:34 a.m. Though the sun was to rise at 7:45 a.m, it is still dark outside. That afternoon, Lance finds all their food has rotted, leaving the group with only their water, and explains to the camera that the corridors keep changing. While the group is sleeping again, team finds the word 'HELLO' scratched into Sasha's back. After the group encounters a young woman in a hospital gown whose face demonically distorts, Houston is separated and killed by an invisible force while stumbling around in the pitchblack corridors, having lost his flashlight. His death is captured by one of the wall cameras installed by Matt at the beginning.
T.C., Sasha and Lance take time to rest and awaken to realize that they now have patient I.D. wristbands with their names on them. The team finds Matt in a room, wearing a hospital gown. Matt appears mentally unstable at this point. The group comes across a bathtub full of blood that was previously empty. When Preston, T.C. and Sasha try to leave the room, Matt stays put, staring at the blood-filled tub. T.C. tries to move Matt along, but a demonic person hidden in the tub quickly emerges from the blood and drags T.C. into the bathtub. Sasha and Lance tip the tub over, but T.C. and the demon is missing when the blood spills out.
Later on, the three remaining find an elevator, of which Lance alone goes to find a pipe to pry the door open. Taking a pipe from a gurney, he encounters a demonic man perched up near the ceiling, his own tongue bit off. Lance panics and runs back to the elevator and pries the elevator door, revealing an empty shaft with a ladder to the lowest levels of the building beneath the ground. Lance hears the screaming of the creature he encountered earlier, and goes to investigate. The demonic, tongue-less patient then charges Lance and they begin struggling off-screen, with Sasha running to his aid to help close a door on the demon to keep him out. During the struggle, Matt commits suicide by jumping down the open elevator shaft.
The two remaining climb down a maintenance ladder in the empty shaft to the lower halls to examine Matt's body, and press on. Sasha becomes violently sick and starts throwing up blood. Lance and Sasha stop to rest, and while they take a nap, a mist rolls over them, causing Sasha to disappear. Several scenes follow Lance alone as his mental health spirals downward. He eventually stops filming as he walks for hours down the seemingly endless, unlit subterranean corridors.
Lance turns the camera back on after a door appears seemingly out of nowhere, which leads to the secret operating room of Dr. Arthur Friedkin, who performed unethical experiments on Collingwood's patients. Lance finds pictures of the experiments. He also finds evidence of satanic rituals and black magic. Lance turns around to see Friedkin and his nurse staff having suddenly appeared behind him in the operation clinic, performing a lobotomy. Lance stumbles backwards in shock, accidently bumping into a small sacrifical altar on the floor, and when he looks up, Friedkin has materialized in front of him. Friedkin's face distorts demonically and Lance's screams are heard as he is dragged off, before the camera cuts out. The camera is turned back on, showing Lance alive, though his eye is bleeding from a lobotomy (done by Friedkin himself). He then states to the camera "I'm so much better now...finally, I can go home," before the screen cuts to black, implying that he has now gone mentally insane from his operation.
- 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 mostly mixed reviews from critics. The New York Press granted it the "Scariest Film Since The Ring", other reviews were not that favorable. The rating website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a "fresh" score of 64%.