Dig Two Graves, from writer-director Hunter Adams, features Samantha Isler as Jake Mather, a young girl struggling to cope with the death of her brother. But when three mysterious men claim to have the power to bring her brother back from the dead, Jake will find herself wrapped up in a dark, twisted game where everyone’s souls are at stake.
This is how you put a personal little spin on what’s really a classic story.
Dig Two Graves can best be summed up as a dark fairy tale meets tragic western, set in Small Town, USA, during the 1970s. It’s a movie all about the various dark paths people may find themselves on as they try to deal with the tragic death of a loved one, from wallowing in despair to vengeance from beyond the grave. It’s quiet, tense, subtle, and fully embracing of its genre roots without ever feeling silly or campy.
I really want to see the 1980s Rob Reiner version of this movie.
There’s a great movie in here somewhere. It just feels like it’s a version that came out some 30 years ago, when a movie like this would have been given some sort of extra charm that just doesn’t exist anymore. This isn’t to poo-poo on Adams’ work. The material, the directing, the performances–everything works great. But there’s this thing about the tone and feel of it all that somehow feels a bit off. A bit too serious when it should be a bit more larger than life. A bit too quick paced when it should linger. A bit light and lean when it should feel weighty. It’s very much a modern version of a script that’s yearning for a time when movies like Stand By Me, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Legend were in theaters.
I still like Adams’ movie a lot, though.
Dig Two Graves feels like what other indie horror movies should be striving for. It takes all the lessons to be learned from the classic bits it lifts from classic stories and presents them in this sincere, fresh-feeling modern package. There’s never this feeling that Adams is simply copying old movies or borrowing heavily from this or that story. It’s more like he’s playing with all the toys he likes in the western and horror and fantasy toy boxes and doing his own thing in his own way. Dig Two Graves is familiar, but still very much it’s own movie.
This movie isn’t going to be for anyone wanting blood and gore and cheap scares. It’s not for people looking for a deep character piece. And it’s not for anyone looking for a bunch of slick practical effects on display. This is for people who dig things like old horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and classic TV shows like The Twilight Zone. It’s stuffed with “genre” and “heart” but very light on “scares.” If that’s your thing, then so is Dig Two Graves.