"Grave Encounters" is a horror movie with some pretty nice frights that makes a fascinating commentary on what it is like to find out that the rest of the world does not think you are as sane as you think you are. But before "Grave Encounters" gets to the horror and, as part of its buildup to becoming a film that makes a profound statement on the entire concept of mental institutions and those who run them, it stands as one of the greatest satires of reality TV made thus far.
I know what you are thinking. How can you make a satire of reality TV when that particularly egregious genre that wore out its welcome about two seconds after knocking on the door is itself little more than an insistently annoying form of self parody?
Nevertheless, "Grave Encounters" in its opening half hour or so as a comedy rather than horror film manages to show what I suspect-and what anyone not intellectually dwarfed enough to buy for one second that reality show contains even one second of authenticity already knows-is the "real" reality of what goes on behind these shows. In particular, those ghost hunter and buster shows.
You know the ones I'm talking about. A bunch of overly dramatic guy using light meters and created shadows to suggest to easily duped viewers that such a thing as ghosts exists. Sorry for the spoiler here, but it needs to be stated.
There are no such thing as ghosts.
Deep down inside, I expect that most people probably do realize that. The problem is that when you get these wizards of technology who have at their disposal our natural inclination to want supernatural explanations rather than being told for the umpteenth time that everything can be explained away as a blip in the human perception machinery what you wind up with is people actually thinking they can see some human form in a nebulous blob of nothingness.
"Grave Encounters" is, in its first half hour, a brilliantly imagined satire of the kind of 21st century snake oil salesmen responsible for these god-awful wastes of tape and television air time. You may not be able to take those ghost finding shows seriously again after watching the comedy that kicks off "Grave Encounters."
And that is almost as good a reason to watch it as the horror that makes up the last hour of the movie.
- Arts & Entertainment