In October 2009, the filmmakers went into an abandoned psychiatric hospital to explore the ‘haunted’ institution, famous for its radical treatment of patients with mental illness. Electroshock, insulin therapy, and lobotomies were commonplace. Once inside, the filmmakers quickly discovered that they were not alone; this story is based on their experiences…
Called by 2 names, “Greystone Park” and “The Asylum Tapes“, I wasn’t sure which to go by. The film was titled as “The Asylum Tapes, though the IMDB listing called it out as “Greystone Park”, so that’s the one I went with. Now off the bat, we should get the interesting points mentioned. For one, “Greystone Park” this is directed by Sean Stone who is son to the great Oliver Stone (both of who also acts in the film). The movie is also Sean’s debut directing feature. Usually we would hope that the leaf doesn’t fall from the tree, but in this case it pains me to say that Sean’s first feature is a total dud. As a reviewer, we sometimes have to make the hard choices on hoping a film will be great and then having to review one that is not. I “did” have high hopes coming into this feature, but have to say it’s among “the” worst cinema verite found footage film I’ve seen to date. No really, if you are picking this up because one of the marketers managed to grab a cool quote…..somewhere……then do yourself a favor and pass, pass, pass.
To give you some room for comparison, The found footage film “Grave Encounters” was great, episodes of the TV show “Ghost Adventures” are entertaining, and well……this movie, is just plain crap.
But enough with my reaction, let’s get into the story and why it fails. We begin with a group who are entertaining the night with ghost stories. Oliver Stone is among this group. 3 of them decide that they what to do some haunt investigating after one proclaims he knows of the “perfect” place to grab some cool footage with the thrill of being at a very notable haunted location. The place is an abandoned psychiatric hospital by the name of Greystone Park. The small group of young filmmakers consists of: Alex (Alexander Wraith), Sean (Sean Stone) and Antonella (Antonella Lentini). Alex, who has been their before proceeds to tell them that the place was known for its controversial torture methods used on patients. The methods were of course reported as treatments, but were quite painful (including methods like stabbing a sharp stick into ones eye and so on). The location has a combination of legends behind it. One is a former patient by the name of Billy, who wears a gas mask and chains (due to a fire that broke out there years ago…???). The other is a an evil ghost by the name of crazy Kate. Kate is explained as having green eyes and haunting those who dare visit. Fair enough!
Now all this sounds cool, with the small team even claiming that they are cooler than the legends (I call this preliminary arrogance). Sure they are excited, focused, and ready to spend the night. All good except that nothing really ever happens worth seeing. As they start filming their visit, the are soon within its halls which are most of the time lit by an on-ground generator. Though from here on out most of the film is “way” to dark to see. Now I thought maybe I could “get around that” by turning up the contrast on my TV (yunno, where blacks are no longer black and have to be made gray). “Still” after blowing out my TV, much was way too dark to see.
This of course is when the rogue editing techniques used are confusing the crap out of you the rest of the time. So ok, we got one dark film that has these 3 filmmakers reacting to things that don’t exist (on screen that is). I began to get bothered by this right away which used “impact sounds” for no reason to try and up the bar a bit. The second thing that bothered me was that half of the team wanted to leave right away and yet ended staying for the duration of the experience. Usually a team might have to endure if they were locked up, however in this case they could just simply walk out of one of the many exits the building offered. They of course became a bit too frantic right away which points to the bad acting experience I had to sit thru. I was reminded of those MTV scare shows they used to have where the team would be dared to visit parts of the building and would freak out wihout reason (note: this TV series was actually called “Fear”). This was worst than that, “and” it was all supposed to be somewhat fictional.
So at this point if you are taking notes, we got bad acting, footage that’s too dark, fake scares over sound effects, frantic editing and alot of common sense issues. The film eventually has a small segment where Crazy Kate shows up and then it pretty much fizzles out (even more).
I’m ok, with trying out new found footage films as some are damn good. Though its also our job to point out the really bad ones so that you don’t invest any money or time into them. “Greystone Park” offers no entertaining value whatsoever urging viewers to seek your found footage elsewhere. I really hope that Sean has an opportunity to prove his directing worth, but this just isn’t one.
Greystone Park (2012)