Waited for the kids to go to bed one night this past weekend, and had myself a found footage double feature, consisting of Grave Encounters followed by Evil Things. I'd heard good things about both of them, so I was excited about watching them back to back. One turned out to be great, the other not so much. Which was which? Read on, but be warned there will be minor spoilers littered throughout.
First up was Grave Encounters. This one tells the story of the film crew of a television show called, you guessed it, Grave Encounters. The show is basically akin to the show Ghost Hunters on SyFy if you're familiar. The group disappears filming an investigation inside an abandoned mental hospital where paranormal activity is said to occur. Only their footage is found.
Grave Encounters turned out to be a real treat. Being that I'm a big Ghost Hunters fan, I immediately started digging this film. I had it recommended to me by a friend whose opinion I tend to trust when it comes to movies, but even then I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. The creepy atmosphere is in full effect here, the actors may be basically imitating the gang from Ghost Hunters but they do a good job in doing so, and when the scary stuff goes into full swing the effects are great and it delivers the goods. As if the abandoned mental hospital locale weren't bad enough, as mental patients are pretty damn creepy, when said mental patients are actually pissed off spirits, well let's just say Grave Encounters did a pretty good job of freaking me the fuck out.
Don't want to really spoil this one too much as it was a genuinely good movie. Whereas the Paranormal Activity's of the world do the "less is more" thing when it comes to the scares, Grave Encounters not only does that, but eventually gives you a look at what's happening while still managing to be scary, which is something that's not always easy to do, especially when working with the budget of an indie horror flick. This is what Paranormal Activity wishes it was. A great flick to watch all by yourself with the lights off.
After that I was all set to call my movie night a success before even watching Evil Things. Sadly, this one was a letdown. I ended up interested in it after reading good things on a certain blog which shall remain nameless as to protect the opinion of the author. But, to say I disagree would be a gross understatement.
Five of the most annoying, and even worse, BORING New York college students on the planet head into the country for a weekend stay in one of their parents' vacation homes. One of the group has just bought himself a shiny new camera and decides to film the entire trip. Along the way, they notice a van that keeps showing up at every stop they make and seems to be following them every step of the way. They arrive at the house thinking they were safe, but the danger was just beginning as the van once again pulls up outside.
Ok so I do have to give Evil Things points for doing something different in the found footage genre, but that's the only points it gets. Most of these movies tend to center around the paranormal, Evil Things takes the home invasion approach. Almost everything else is either predictable, or so poorly done that it does little more than irritate. As stated, the "actors" are all horribly annoying, so much so that when they begin to get taken one by one, I was cheering. There's plenty of other things that bothered me, but the one that really got me was the ridiculous twist. Turns out the guy driving the van? The one terrorizing these kids? He's ALSO filming the whole thing from behind the wheel of the van. The "found footage" we are watching is from a tape that's supposedly marked as evidence in a police investigation, and for some reason the killer has taken the time to edit in some of his footage to go along with the kids' footage. Thank God he did though, it sure made the whole thing more "movie-like". Big disappointment, which came close to ruining my double feature. Pass on this one.