It’s common for many curious adventure-seekers to want to test out the validity of all urban legends, no matter what the danger they may put themselves in. Even the threat against their mental capabilities doesn’t deter people, and at times can encourage them, especially if they can videotape it to prove that the unbelievable event actually happened. That’s certainly the case in the new horror film ‘Greystone Park,’ which is based on true events experienced by the film’s writers.
‘Greystone Park’ follows two filmmakers, Alex (played by Alexander Wraith) and Sean (portrayed by Sean Stone), who are accompanied by Antonella (played by Antonella Lentini), as they broke into the abandoned title psychiatric hospital. Greystone was notorious for its use of electroshock and lobotomies to treat mental illness in its patients. The three want to test the urban legend that anyone who enters the hospital goes insane. Once inside, they discover that they’re truly not alone, as they’re haunted by ghosts and demonic shadows. They record their descent into a realm of fear, paranoia and madness.
Stone, who made his feature film directorial and writing debut with the horror film, made the bold and daring decision to base his first movie on actual experiences he and Wraith, his co-scribe, actually had in the real Greystone Park hospital. But what truly differentiates ‘Greystone Park’ from other documentary, found-footage style horror films is that Stone effortlessly uses the power of suggestion and doesn’t fully show every scare the characters encounter, in order to allow audiences to use their imagination to fully understand what Alex, Sean and Antonella are experiencing. The shakiness of the cameras aids the allusions of what the filmmakers truly experienced while they were initially exploring Greystone Park, before they began shooting the narrative film.
Just like his father, legendary director Oliver Stone, who had a cameo appearance in ‘Greystone Park’ as one of the people who convince Alex and Sean to film in the asylum, the filmmaker creatively used the diverse locations he shot in to his advantage. Shooting in such hospitals as Creedmoor in Queens, New York; Letchworth Village in Thiells, New York; and Linda Vista in Los Angeles, on a 17-day shoot and a limited budget, Stone featured the most destitute, isolated and abandoned areas that allowed the characters to truly question their own mental well-being. Alex, Sean and Antonella began to truly believe they were being targeted by ghosts and spirits the further they ventured into the remote, horrific rooms of Greystone Park.
While Stone effectively used the found footage style and secluded locations to his advantage, the characters are surprisingly and disappointingly underdeveloped and uninteresting. Given the fact that ‘Greystone Park’ is based on the filmmaker’s experiences with Wraith at Greystone as they were researching and preparing to write the script, the movie fails to provide any clear explanation on why Sean and Alex ultimately decide to so hastily explore the hospital after initially hearing about it at a dinner party. They don’t do any research into the location, or consider the consequences of filming at the hospital, and are willing to put their lives in danger just for a sense of adventure.
Stone and Wraith, who have both appeared in several small film roles before ‘Greystone Park,’ also questionably fail to fully emotionally connect with their characters. Despite writing the script and basing their characters’ experiences on their own, the two still feel at times as though they don’t genuinely believe that ghosts are truly setting out to harm them in the hospital. Their descent into paranoia seems forced at times, as though they don’t truly believe the urban legend about the hospital.
‘Greystone Park’ includes several bonus features entertainingly showing the filming process of the movie, including an audio commentary from Stone, Lentini and Wraith. There’s also the 7-minute long ‘Sean Stone’s Ghost Stories: The Making of Greystone Park,’ which features the cast discussing their own views on the supernatural and some odd occurrences which happened during the making of the movie. Another 7-minute long feature, ‘The Locations of Greystone Park,’ tours of the three hospitals the film was shot in, and gives some background. There bonus features also include a 2-minute alternate ending.
Stone aimed to provide a unique twist on the found footage-ghost story horror subgenres with ‘Greystone Park,’ by effectively using the frightening locations of the mental hospitals to feed into the power of suggestion that ghosts do prey on the weak. While the documentary feel to the film does make viewers ponder whether spirits and ghosts do exist in locations that thrive on evil, the inexperience of the actors feeds into the naivety of the characters as they begin their exploration. The horror film unfortunately feeds into the theory that people who don’t have enough knowledge to protect themselves are more susceptible to the power of suggestion and the evil nature of others.