Directed By: Wayne Capps
Starring: Patrick Hussion, Kelly Coulter, Jillian Walzer
Tag line: "What they encounter will terrify you"
Trivia: This film was shot entirely in South Carolina
Documenting the Grey Man, yet another entry in the found footage sub-genre, kicks off in much the same way many of these films do: with a graphic informing us what we’re about to see is real. But thanks, in large part, to the movie’s poor performances, not a single scene in Documenting the Grey Man feels even remotely genuine.
Five amateur filmmakers: Mitch (Patrick Hussion), Lisa (Kelly Coulter), Jessica (Jillian Walzer), Chad (Wayne Capps) and Larry (William Covington), pose as paranormal investigators to look into claims made by a young family, who believe they’re new house is haunted. What’s more, the ghost that’s supposedly haunting them is none other than “The Grey Man”, a spirit which, until recently, had only been spotted roaming the beaches of South Carolina. Hoping to prove that paranormal research is nothing more than a hoax, the five are instead flung head-first into a nightmare when the ghost they didn’t believe in turns out to be all too real.
The very nature of paranormal research, where a team of experts sets up cameras throughout a so-called “haunted” building in an attempt to capture otherworldly phenomenon, makes it a perfect candidate for a found footage-style movie. Of course, for it to work, audiences have to believe what they’re watching could actually occur. While I had issues with the first half of Grave Encounters, a picture with the same kind of set-up as this one, the performances were at least strong enough to convince me it might have been real. This is not the case with Documenting the Grey Man. From the opening scene, where the film making pals are sitting in a restaurant laying out their plans, there wasn’t a moment I believed they were legitimate filmmakers. Or, for that matter, even friends. Their give-and-take was completely unnatural, and it only gets worse when the group drives out to the house to begin their “investigation”. In one particularly painful sequence, Mitch is interviewing Joe Simms (Richard L. Fister), the owner of said house. Joe doesn’t have much time for ghosts, and tells Mitch he’s more interested in fixing the place up than talking about the supernatural. Yet far from appearing agitated, or even slightly miffed by Mitch’s barrage of questions, Joe comes across as indifferent, and maybe a little bored. The only convincing character in the bunch was Joe’s wife, Katie, played by Payton Morelli. Too bad she didn’t get a lot of support from her co-stars.
Yes, I know Documenting the Grey Man is a low-budget film (it cost around $35,000 to make), and in most circumstances, low budgets don’t usually equate to solid performances. That’s all well and good, but Documenting the Grey Man expects us to buy that what we’re seeing is real, that these events actually happened, which requires players who, at the very least, come across as real people. The actors in Documenting the Grey Man fall well short of that mark.