Over the past few years, there have been a number of films that show paranormal investigators getting themselves in trouble when they investigate hauntings that turn out to be real. One of the best of these films is still The Frighteners, from back in 1996, but there have been a fair few decent ones to choose from in recent years (many of them, such as the Grave Encounters movies, making use of the found footage format).
Deadtectives is another one. It's a horror comedy about, yes, a team of paranormal investigators who are used to faking supernatural activity for better results on their show. They're facing cancellation, which is why the season finale needs to be a big deal, and that's how they end up in what is allegedly the most haunted house in Mexico. They soon start to delve into their usual bag of tricks, but it's not long until the tricks aren't needed. The spirits start to come out, and they're deadly.
Co-written and directed by Tony West (David Clayton Rogers is the other main writer, although a number of people worked on the main story idea), Deadtectives is a horror comedy that manages to be entertaining throughout, just, but doesn't supply either enough scares or laughs. It has some fun ideas though, especially once it gets over the halfway mark, but it could have been greatly improved by some extra time spent working on the characters or committing to some extra bloodshed and gore throughout.
The cast do well enough. The main quartet are played by Chris Geere (not as strong as he could be in the role of Sam, the main host, but he's fine), Tina Ivlev (as Kate, the one who struggles most with the morality of what they are doing), David Newman (Lloyd, who spends a lot of time modifying equipment and being prepared for actual supernatural activity), and José María de Tavira (Javier, who becomes more interesting after a major plot development in the second half). Martha Higareda is Abril, a new figure hoping to raise the standard of the show, and there are a number of decent performances from those playing the spirits who reside in the house.
Although obviously not working with the biggest budget or selection of resources, what is on display here is done well. Production design is solid, the camerawork and cinematography is actually impressive, and CGI is used well, especially in the third act. Considering everything as a whole, West has created an impressive little film for his directorial feature. The problems lie in the script, with both the dialogue and the character interactions lacking something that could have made this much more enjoyable.
I rate it above average, it's trying to do something a little bit different and it's trying to do it well. And even while it's not succeeding . . . it consistently aims to provide viewers with a sense of fun. A lot of other films seem to forget how important that can be.
Here's a Grave Encounters boxset.
Americans can buy Grave Encounters 2 here.