The latest batch from the modern horror shelves!
GRAVE ENCOUNTERS (2011)
Grave Encounters is yet another found footage film, but in the style of those ghost hunting shows. The crew goes on a hunt at an abandoned mental hospital.
A majority of the movie is typical found footage stuff—everyone arguing, splitting up, running around calling each other’s names, demanding that the camera be shut off, etc. Aside from one guy finding a glory hole in a bathroom stall, I was pretty bored. I was about to lose all hope when they find someone standing in a corner, back to them. Hm. I feel like I’ve been behind this camera before. The person turns around and their features morph into one of those demon faces anyone can do on their computer and upload to YouTube. Yawn.
But then…I have to admit…Grave Encounters brings on some seriously creepy moments and jump scares, most of them involving something that comes out of a bloody tub! There are plenty of freaky sequences in the last half hour of the film. My only complaint is that there were too many instances in which the camera goes all screwy right during the most terrifying footage. UGH! Some of the more complex special effects do look like something done on a computer, so this may have been a way to hide limitations of the budget.
In the end, Grave Encounters takes a [REC] turn as the remaining survivor winds up in a room that has plenty of information to explain what has been going on in the hospital. Honestly, I didn’t care at all about the plot of the movie or the characters—as I don’t in most found footage films. I was just in it for scares, and while it took a while, the last half hour gave me quite a thrill. When it comes to found footage films, I’m okay with anything scarier than The Blair Witch Project. That’s seriously not a lot to ask.
Featuring a group of butch guys (and one chick) crossing paths with a giant beast of a man with black eyes and demon teeth in the woods, D4 had the potential to be a testosterone-filled action horror. There was also huge possibility for a high body count because there’s a brief scene involving Bigfoot believers in the same area. But the action and suspense is crammed into the last forty minutes of the film and there is not much in the way of kills or gore.
The thing is, (hot) director, writer, and star Darrin Dickerson (above) came up with the concept for the movie after his son was diagnosed with epilepsy in real life (epilepsy plays a role in the film). So he wasn’t setting out just to make an action horror flick. This was a therapeutic project as well. The first hour of the film is heavy-handed. Using constant time shifts, it presents the backstory of how these guys ended up in the woods. It’s all plot and no thrills for quite a while, and there’s major focus on one character struggling with the fact that he offered his epileptic grandson up as a guinea pig to scientists (the actor plays the grieving grandfather perfectly).
So yes, the film does eventually get pretty intense and the monster, played by a guy named Big Mike Ulm (back above), is fantastic—and really fucking hot in a “take you to his cave, bang you to death, then eat you for dinner” kind of way. You know the type. He just wish he would have been exploited for a much larger part of the film.
My only other real gripe about D4 is that it has one of those openings that shows a brief scene from the end of the movie, which spoils who is going to survive. This seems like the go-to trick these days to promise viewers that something exciting and hardcore will eventually happen in a movie that takes forever to get to the action.
MISS NOBODY (2010)
Miss Nobody is more of a dark murder comedy than a horror film. It stars the awesome Leslie Bibb who, despite being a mainstream actress, is carving out a bit of a scream queen niche with movies like Trick ‘r Treat, The Midnight Meat Train, and Hell Baby. Love Leslie, and in this film, she plays a young woman who believes that a guardian angel is guiding her life. So when accidental deaths remove people who are hindering the growth of her career and life goals, she believes it’s meant to be.
Leslie narrates the film and breaks the fourth wall, which adds to the spirit of this quirky film. As she continues to climb the corporate ladder at her job, she believes there are signs from her guardian angel that certain people need to go. And she comes up with some clever kills. My favorite is when she gets a guy while he’s photocopying his ass. Shocker, I know.
But it’s not all so simple for Leslie. Getting rid of Vivica A. Fox and the hot dude from that first Superman reboot that bombed is simple enough.
But she has to up her game with some of her more challenging obstacles: a gay guy who is immune to her sex appeal, her new detective boyfriend who starts to add up the questionable deaths, and someone who knows she’s a killer and is blackmailing her!
There are some delicious twists, including a classic slasher-esque chase scene and a dark, dastardly ending. Now this is my kind of flick.