Grave Encounters (The Vicious Brothers, 2011)
…and if you thought, correctly, that Episode 50 (q.v. elsewhere this ish) was bad, let me introduce you to Grave Encounters, a movie that feels as if it was made by taking the script for Episode 50, giving it one more rewrite to extinguish any faint embers there might have been of something halfway decent in it, and then the loose, unbound pages of the script were tossed into the air and picked up at random—and then the movie was filmed in the order in which the pages were picked up. (Any page that was picked up upside-down or backwards was shot as-is, with the cast trying to make sense of upside-down language or simply inserting five minutes of silence per blank page.) Now, I hasten to add that the above is an artist’s conception of what may have happened during the filming of Grave Encounters; I have no inside information in this regard. But that’s certainly what it felt like to me.
Plot: A burgeoning Ghost Adventures-style show (we find out early on that this is footage that would have been edited down to form the sixth episode of the series) arranges to spend the night in a haunted asylum. Unlike normal procedure, when the caretaker of the asylum is supposed to “lock them in overnight”, he actually does, so the team can’t do things like get extra equipment from the truck. Or escape, when they find out that unlike the places they normally produce shows, this one really is haunted. All they can do is wait for sunrise, and the return of the caretaker…
…and I can’t really get into what really made this movie so entirely awful without getting past that point, because that’s where it all goes into the toilet—not that it wasn’t most of the way there anyway, with acting that is at its best on the borderline of terrible, even worse lighting problems than one normally has with this sort of found-footage claptrap, etc. What I can tell you is that once we get to that point, the movie’s sense of pace, which was already kind of wavering between “dragging” and “mumblecore”, went over the cliff. I almost think I understand what Bros. Vicious were attempting to do with the pacing there, but without giving too much away, I’ll say that it reminds me of the philosophy I have always believed James Joyce used when writing “The Dead” (if you want to write a story about dreadfully boring people, write a dreadfully boring story). And if so, I will give them that it takes guts to try something like that, because if it doesn’t work, it’s going to be a spectacular failure.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Grave Encounters is. ½