The Vicious Brothers (Colin Minihan & Stuart Ortiz (2011)
A team of fake ghost hunters/ reality television stars make a movie in an abandoned mental hospital. Hilarity ensues.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
I know, I know. We all hate reality tv. Until we sit in front of our televisions, at first making fun of whatever show happens to be on but then getting sucked into it for seventeen hours at a time, the sun coming up in the background as we slowly begin to realize that we haven’t gotten any sleep, work is starting in twenty minutes, and we haven’t showered, shaved, or blinked for the entire night. You’ve been there, right? There’s a reason that all of television has become Kardashian-ized, and that’s because it sells. Cue Grave Encounters, a fantastic little movie about a team of fake ghost hunters who are trying to sell their found-footage style reality show to a network and were just a tad unlucky.
I heard about this movie for a long time before I watched it, and everything I heard about it was absolutely correct. This is one of the best found footage films that has been made, and it’s a really unique concept about a brand of reality television that is otherwise not really my cup of tea (I know, you’d think the horror hound would be way into paranormal shit, right? Nah, I ain’t afraid of no ghost.) They decide to tour an abandoned mental institution, paying the caretaker and the groundskeeper off camera to lie about their paranormal experiences with the building to create an interesting show. While there are plenty of scares and lots of green demons, perhaps the best part about this show is how it absolutely skewers reality television in general, pointing out how easy it would be to fake all of the things that we see on our screens with a little bit of unaired footage. And honestly, when our “heroes” eventually meet their preordained ends, we don’t feel even slightly bad for them.
Eat that rat motherfucker, that's what you get!
I mean, okay, maybe we feel a little bad for them. No one deserves to be stuck in what is basically hell but is actually underground beneath a mental institution, especially people who are trying to use a little ingenuity and creativity to make a quick buck. I mean, there’s still a lot of work that goes into these shows, and who doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of the rich and famous? Robin Leach made a name for himself telling us all about the rich and fabulous, and maybe it’s better if the American public has constant updates on the Kardash… oh goddamnit, they almost got me again! Those Kardashians are tricky motherfuckers!
Fuck you, Kim Kardashian! You'll never take me alive!
Anyway, the movie’s really really good. Surprisingly so. The actors do a great job of coming across as the standard reality television douchebags, and creepy events happen often enough to keep the film flowing right along until the next big incident. The Vicious Brothers have made a helluva film here, and honestly the sequel isn’t bad either (more on that later!) The effective use of night vision camera allows the special effects to look more real than they otherwise would have, and the actors do a great job of reacting to things that aren’t really there. Believe it or not, there are plenty of films who add effects in post who have actors looking in the wrong direction or reacting to things way later than they should. This was a professionally filmed movie that didn’t have any of the problems that other films of its ilk often run into. A solid effort, to be sure. The location is genuinely spooky, and while it’s a mental institution, we don’t really blame our characters for choosing to do the show here because there’s never any real indication that it’s a bad place until shit starts to go haywire.
I mean there's this. Yeah, I guess that's a pretty good indication.
Who this movie is for: Found footage fans, Fans of reality television who don’t take their hobby too seriously, Kim & Kourtney Kardashian
Bottom line: Good film, much better than I expected. I think it’s available on Amazon for anyone who wants to watch it, it’s definitely worth a watch. It’s in my Top 10 Found Footage films too, which should carry its own badge of honor!