Written and directed by Colin 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. The trailer for Grave Encounters is considered a viral sensation, generating over 30 million views.
It received positive reviews from critics and a cult following, spawning a sequel in 2012.
Jerry Hartfield, the producer of Grave Encounters, a famous ghost investigation television series, explains that Grave Encounters was cancelled in 2003 after the fifth episode, when the cast and crew, along with the footage for episode six, mysteriously went missing. The footage was finally recovered in 2010 and brought to Hartfield. In it, the show's host Lance Preston, along with occult specialist Sasha Parker, surveillance operator Matt White, cameraman T.C. Gibson, and fake medium Houston Grey, investigate the abandoned fictional lunatic asylum Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where many instances of paranormal activity have been reported since its closure after the head doctor, Dr. Arthur Friedkin, is charged with inhumane experiments on the patients.
After taking a day tour of the hospital, the crew return for an overnight surveillance campaign while locking themselves inside. At first, everything is quiet, but soon, strange phenomena begin to occur, such as odd noises, doors and windows moving, and a wheelchair moving on its own. After recording a haunting where an invisible entity moves Sasha's hair, the group decides to finish their filming and wait for 6 AM when the caretaker will let them out. They begin gathering their belongings, but Matt disappears while retrieving the cameras alone.
Now becoming uneasy and with the caretaker nowhere to be seen hours after their agreed release time, the crew eventually break down the exit doors, only to discover that the exit mysteriously loops back into another hallway, and all exits either lead to more hallways or dead ends. Lance soon realizes that the sun has not risen, and it is still night outside, despite their cellphone clocks showing that it is well past mid-morning. The group attempts to find an alternate exit, but to no avail as the building seemingly changes around them, creating dead ends and false exits. While the group is sleeping again, someone scratches the word "HELLO" into Sasha's back. After the group encounters a young woman in a hospital gown whose face demonically distorts, Houston is separated and strangled by an invisible force. A flash of light follows, and Houston is thrown back, dead. While resting, the remaining crew awaken only to discover that they have somehow been fitted with hospital identification bracelets, each bracelet having their name inscribed on it.
Lance, Sasha, and T.C. eventually find Matt in a room, wearing a hospital gown and appearing to be mentally unstable. As the group leaves the room, T.C. notices Matt remaining in the room, staring at a blood-filled bathtub. He tries to pull Matt away, but is dragged by a dead patient into the bathtub in which they both disappear. With Matt in tow, Lance and Sasha find an elevator, and Lance goes alone to find something to wedge the elevator door open. After taking a pipe from an old hospital gurney he encounters a demonic patient. Lance panics, flees to the elevator, and pries the elevator door open. He is then attacked by the patient, but Sasha rescues him.
Meanwhile, Matt videos his suicide by jumping down the elevator shaft while Lance and Sasha are occupied. After climbing down a ladder in the shaft to the tunnels of the hospital, Sasha becomes violently ill and starts coughing up blood. The two stop to rest, and while they sleep, Sasha is covered by a strange mist and disappears. Lance alone wanders down the seemingly endless corridors as his mental health spirals downward, feeding on rats to survive.
Eventually, Lance encounters a door that appears seemingly out of nowhere, which leads to Dr. Friedkin's legendary secret operating room. There, he finds evidence of satanic rituals and black magic being performed on the patients. Lance then discovers a small sacrificial altar on the floor, after which he is attacked by the ghost of Friedkin, who drags him away as he screams, before the camera cuts out. The camera is turned back on, showing Lance alive, implied to have been lobotomized by Friedkin. He states to the camera, "He said I'm all better now...I can finally go home." Followed by his famous outro. "For Grave Encounters...Lance Preston signing off." The screen then cuts to black.
List of Deaths Edit
|Name||Cause of Death||Killer||On Screen||Notes|
|Dr. Arthur Friedkin||Murdered||Unknown patient||No||Comes back as a ghost|
|Houston Grey||Assaulted||Unseen Force||Yes|
|T.C. Gibson||Dragged into bathtub, killed offscreen||Demonic Being||No|
|Matt White||Falls into elevator shaft||Himself||Yes||Suicide|
|Sasha Parker||Disappears||Unknown Being||No||After the mist fades away she is nowhere to be found|
- 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
Grave Encounters was filmed in Riverview Hospital, a mental institute in Coquitlam, British Columbia. It has been the location for a number of other television and film-based productions. The film was produced in collaboration with American Express, Digital Interference, Twin Engine Films and Darclight.
Critical response Edit
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 64% based on 14 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 5.5/10. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 33 out of 100, based on 4 reviews, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews".
The New York Press called it the "Scariest Film Since The Ring".
Don Sumner of the Horror Freak News gave the film a 3 out of 5, praising its visuals and even stating that it's a mix of Paranormal Activity and reality TV.
Nick Schager of Slant Magazine gave the film 1.5 out of 4, comparing it to The Last Exorcism but criticized its attempt on parodying Ghost Hunters-style reality TV program.
Felicity Burton of the Scream Horror Magazine criticized repetition of scenes and bad CGI, but saying that it sort off is a good found footage.
Grave Encounters 2 was released on October 2, 2012. It was directed by John Poliquin, and was written by The Vicious Brothers. On May 6, 2015 The Vicious Brothers announced a prequel entitled Grave Encounters: The Beginning.