When Grave Encounters, a paranormal reality show, is canceled after its fifth episode due to the disappearance of its crew during the shooting of the sixth episode the show’s producer Jerry Hartfield is prompted to reveal raw footage from the last shoot. The footage features the crew led by program director Lance Preston, the team’s occult specialist Sasha Parker, surveillance operator Matt White, cameraman T.C. Gibson, and their “medium” Houston Grey. The team is dispatched to Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital where supernatural phenomena have been occurring for years. The team is met on-site by the hospital’s caretaker Kenny, who gives them a brief tour of the grounds during the day and explains the history of the site. Kenny mentions a doctor by the name of Arthur Friedkin who was reported to have performed terrible experiments on the patients in the past before the patients killed him on the grounds. Once the tour is finished the team sets up their cameras and locks themselves inside the hospital to spend the night filming the investigation. As the night progresses the team is met with almost no interaction early in the night until T.C. captures a door that slams behind him. Seeking more direct paranormal phenomena footage the team begins to try to reach out to entities that may remain in the hospital. The team begins to hear unexplained noises around the area and Sasha’s hair is mysteriously lifted into the air by an unseen force. Once they’ve gathered the footage they begin to pack up and head to the entrance way waiting for Kenny’s return at dawn. Matt leaves the group to gather the static cameras placed around the facility, footage reveals a loud bang that draws Matt out of frame as he goes to investigate it. When Kenny doesn’t show up and Matt is still missing the crew decides to force the entrance doors open revealing a hallway. The team begins to realize that it is still dark outside despite their clocks reading early in the morning. Trapped in the labyrinth-like hospital the remaining footage explores the team’s descent into otherworldly terror.
Designed off the back of the found-footage horror trend that started with The Blair Witch Project, Grave Encounters takes the medium and presents it in a spoof setting of the, at the time, widely spread ghost-hunting television shows. The film marketed itself to fans through a teaser trailer that was uploaded to youtube in 2010 that quickly went viral with over 1.5 million views in the first few months before the film’s distribution rights were acquired by Tribeca Film. While the Critical reception was mixed on release the film holds a 67% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and went on to gain a cult following. The film also received a sequel in 2012 titled Grave Encounters 2.
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