DVD Review: After Dark Horrorfest IV – The Graves
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The Graves
DIRECTOR: Brian Pulido
STARRING: Clare Grant, Jillian Murray, Bill Moseley, Tony Todd, Amanda Wyss
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: March 23, 2010

For four straight years now, After Dark Horrorfest: 8 Films to Die For has been unleashed. Eight original horror films to quench your thirst for blood and gore and screams galore. Last year I was able to check out and review their third collection of horrors (Read: DVD Review: After Dark Horrorfest III: 8 Films To Die For), and was rather excited to check out their new slate this year! Instead of cramming every review into one mammoth review, this year we’ll take it one flick at a time, with this little opener stuck at the top of each one.

The Graves tells the story of two 20-something rocker comic book geek sisters named Megan Graves (Clare Grant) and Abby Graves (Jillian Murray) who, while on a road trip together before Megan moves to New York, find themselves visiting a shady old mine town that has transformed into a tourist attraction with promises of being incredibly haunted.

It’s clear that something doesn’t feel right and Abby — the more reluctant of the two — tries desperately to convince her sister to keep moving and ignore the mine town. Of course, this wouldn’t be a horror flick if they left, and Megan convinces her sister to check it out. Before long, they witness the brutal murder of a man and the horrific and mysterious aftermath to follow, leaving the sisters on a frantic mission to get back to their car and escape. Despite their efforts, the hell that they’ve visited involves a lot more people than it first appeared, and the evil taking place runs a lot deeper than just those people involved.

It’s hard not to enjoy The Graves right off the bat; two incredibly attractive rock-loving comic book geek sisters is impossible for a gentleman to ignore. On top of that, the actresses themselves have heavy geek backgrounds to provide another layer of appeal. Grant is a huge comic book fan and married to Robot Chicken creator Seth Green, while Murray provided the face/body scans for your asari acquaintance Dr. Liara T’Soni in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 (which also features Seth Green — take that, Kevin Bacon). This immediately placed me in a tough and biased position, wanting desperately to like what I was about to see.

All hopes aside, I sadly must admit that no, The Graves is not the best horror movie that you’ll ever see. There were a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way and damaged the attempted slashed flick. For instance, the writing and dialogue delivery was extremely poor at times, and the characters seemed to make many nonsensical choices along the way. It felt like the director didn’t know what he wanted out of the performances, so he didn’t press them to alter this expression or that tone of voice to perfect delivery. On top of that, sequences involving escape where a character is injured or disorientated, causing them to walk painfully slow, felt dragged out to extend the length of the movie and became glaringly obvious when they catch a break and can suddenly move much more quickly. Things like this destroy the flow of a movie and make it tricky to get back into.

That said, there were things to like here as well. Performances by horror staples Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses) and Tony Todd (Candyman) accounted for some silly creepy fun, especially in Moseley’s case. There’s plenty of cheese going on, but that’s never stopped a horror movie before. With a couple of tweaks and a little more care to the writing and direction, I could see this being a much more enjoyable and scary flick. As it is, I don’t think I would be out of place saying that The Graves is worth a watch, when you’re in a mindless horror kind of mood and are seeking something new, of course.

Special features on The Graves include commentaries, a making of featurette, some deleted scenes, audition videos of the actors, and a music video, among others.


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