Studio:Arc Entertainment Year: 2012 Cast: Sean Stone, Alexander Wraith, Antonella Lentini, John Schramm, Monique Zordan, Zana Markelson, Monique van Vooren, Pete Antico, Oliver Stone, Coralie Charriol Paul
Director: Sean Stone Release Date: October 16, 2012 Rating: R for language throughout, and brief disturbing images Run Time: 01h:22m:15s Genre(s): horror
"Believe in ghosts yet?" - Alex (Alexander Wraith)
Here's another 'found footage' genre entry, this time set inside an abandoned psychiatric hospital.
Movie Grade: C+
DVD Grade: C+
As a horror flick Greystone Park has a lot of spookhouse style and not much in the way of veritable fright substance, serving as yet another shaky camera entry in the 'found footage' genre. Despite the deluge of films that have taken and will take this approach I still generally tend to enjoy the format, even though rarely does anything new rise up. The reason I preface with that statement is I'm sure alot of viewers would run away from something like Greystone Park just because it DOES feature shaky cam 'found footage'. Point being I'm on the 'pro' side of the subject, yet unfortunately that predisposition did not help me find this one completely satisfying.
Directed by Sean Stone (son of Oliver), Greystone Park is the young Stone's feature length debut. He also co-wrote and stars in it (playing a character named Sean Stone), and from movie viewer experience that sort of trifecta from a young filmmaker can often be ambitiously problematic. To Stone's credit it didn't feel as if he were overextending himself, and I don't feel the problems with the film itself necessarily stem from an excess of Sean Stone in too many production roles. The problems seem to come from an overall inability to bring it all together when the film needed to desperately come together, and instead it stumbles over itself, turning an 82-minute runtime into an experience that often felt much longer.
The familiar genre premise has Sean Stone and his sort-of girlfriend Antonella (Antonella Lentini) agreeing to visit an infamously haunted abandoned psychiatric hospital with Alex (co-writer Alexander Wraith), a guy they barely know. Naturally the titular joint has a history of horrible death and its own legendary hall-walking spectre, and as trio wander the creepy interiors the vibe gets darker as their discoveries become increasingly bizarre. Visually Greystone Park is a treat, full of eerie tableaus, shadowy hallways, flickering lights and plenty of scary-looking dolls, though to be honest it seemed as if Stone was playing fast-and-loose with the camera coverage supposedly shot by his performers. On the plus side the three real-life locations used by Stone to create the fictional Greystone are extremely effective here in setting an unsettling mood, and are really the only reason to go along with the exploration.
Of course the difficult journey of every horror film is the bumpy road to the final act, the moment where the cinematic payoff is delivered. Here things don't fare all that well. While Stone maintains the visual creepiness it is the actions of the characters that flounder. The big moment of truth has a nice buildup but the resolution is sketchy, at best. Not to play armchair director, but this disc also includes an alternate ending that I actually found to be much more entertaining (though just as logically inconsistent) and while I'm glad it's here as an option I sort of wish it had made it to the final cut.
The grainy 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is supposed to look guerilla-style, which means much of the time the blacks are muddy and the onscreen action is indecipherable. Lighting is horrible, and while I'm sure much of the flashlight-only look was intentional to create atmosphere it doesn't do much to make the viewing enjoyable.
Audio options are available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo. Naturally opt for the 5.1, which provides some pleasant rear channel creaks and moans, but the biggest problem is the absence of subtitles because the audio quality is a bit thick, rendering some of the dialogue impossible to understand.
Packaging from Arc includes a slipcover, for those who still covet the extra cardboard. Bonus material includes a commentary (featuring Stone, Wraith and Lentini), EPKs Sean Stone's Ghost Stories: The Making of Greystone Park (06m:58s) and Locations of Greystone Park (06m:59s), the aforementioned Alternate Ending (01m:47s) and a batch of assorted Arc trailers.