Grave Encounters (2011) The very promising trailer for Grave Encounters has a scene where a girl's face instantly turns demonic. That alone is enough to reel someone in, hoping to see the next level in "these are the tapes we found" cinema. The premise of a ghost-hunting TV crew filming their experience in an old haunted asylum was off to an okay start, even though it blatantly rips off Paranormal State. The crew's director is thinking money over ethics, so whatever trouble he gets into he deserves. They set up cameras--which later we see are too conveniently placed--in the asylum. They walk around, blah blah....obviously they are going to be attacked by evil spirits. About halfway in, the movie loses its direction. Along with the terrified characters.
The crew becomes trapped inside the mental hospital (because of a bizarre twist) and all the film cares about at this point is to have things jump out and scare you like it's a Resident Evil video game. Worse is that with no explanation, it turns out that they are now in some sort of purgatory with the spirits/ghosts/whatever. There are also mad doctors there to operate on you, as they originally did to the patients when the asylum was open. One of the crew disappears and assumingly gets an "operation" off screen and then re-appears wearing a hospital gown and speaking incoherently. I mean COME ON. Where'd the gown come from? That's when Grave Encounters jumps off a cliff. The surprise scares are jumpy, but without substance and reasoning, the believability goes out the window. The bogus rat near the end which is eaten for shock value couldn't make the save. [rating: $2] -Kenyon