Folks seeking a tale as old as time at theaters this weekend have an alternative to watching the latest Disney blockbuster. The wonderfully atmospheric Gothic horror revenge film "Dig Two Graves" opens on Friday, March 24 2017 courtesy of awesomely indie film distribution company Area 23a. The shades of "To Kill a Mockingbird" adds nice substance to this one.
The following YouTube trailer of the SPOILER-LADEN "Graves" trailer highlights the combination of elements that call for seeing it on the big screen.
The creepy small town vibe and well-presented symbolism begins with the opening scene, which is set in 1947. Two local cops dumping two bodies in a quarry in the dead (and the heat) of the night of the night rapidly literally leads to there being a new sheriff in town. Ted Levine of "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Shutter Island" puts his well-known quirky skills to good use as this dark version of Andy Taylor.
Writer/director Hunter Adams then provides striking contrasts by shifting the action to a sunny summer afternoon in 1977. Thirteen year-old Jacqueline "Jake" Mather and her big brother Sean are riding their bikes to said same quarry for a swim. Sean drowning during that routine expedition prompts more than survivor guilt in Jake.
The first of many connections between the body dump and the drowning is that now Sheriff Waterhouse is the devoted grandfather of Jake. He is the primary source of emotional support in the period following the death of Sean.
The rest of the film alternates between the '40s and the '70s. We learn the events that lead to the body dump and how Jake becomes a pawn in a scary freaking delayed effort to get revenge against the sheriff.
Three moonshiners who easily could be named Larry, Darryl, and Darryl ambush Jake after school and play mind games to convince her that they can resurrect Sean. The catch is that the price for that miracle is sacrificing the life of her outcast classmate Willie Proctor. A combination of sibling love, a sense that Willie is disposable to society, and the aforementioned guilt make the swap appealing to our 21st century Scout.
The Sheriff getting a small portion of the story after the fateful trip of Jake into the woods prompts him to action regarding the man whom he strongly suspects is behind that recent event. One spoiler is that this dynamic is highly meaningful regarding the title of the film.
Adams nicely builds the suspense in the multiple plot lines to terrific climaxes. The post-war events escalate to the still somewhat ambiguous swimming with the fishes at the beginning of the film, the sheriff tries to put those events fully to rest, and Jake desperately seeks inner peace. This final piece of the artful puzzle has the most creativity and symbolism. It further is closest to the overall theme of "Graves."
The combination of depth (no pun intended), character studies, and mid-scary atmospheric psychological horror make "Graves" a film that just about anyone can enjoy. It also is nice to see a film that understands the true meaning of "dawn of justice."
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Graves" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.