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Grave Dancers was my favorite movie. Everything about it was amazing-the acting, the dialogue, the plot, the effects. I have been writing many short "horror stories" for a long, long time. This movie will inspire me to keep writing and to use its plot and characters as role models. The cast and director were astounding, believable, and as I said before, brilliant. Though it didn't have numerous action sequences, the plot's many twists and occurrences were perfectly done (not dramatized and/or overly exaggerated.)The biggest twist in the plot (I'm not going to spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it) wasn't obvious at all, but supported by other details in the movie that led up to it. All in all, I loved this movie and could watch it over and over again without getting tired of it!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie at its premier on Thursday night on 34th street AMC at
the Tribeca Film Festival. Below will have analysis of the film and
initial thoughts with a few critiques.
The movie pushes into a scene of death. Something very reminiscent of "Scream" and more importantly "Suspiria". I couldn't help, but wonder if Dario Argento was some influence on the film and filmmaker. Unfortunately, the beautiful style of Argento is laid by the wayside after the opening scene and forgotten as the movie progresses. The acting itself is sub-par. A few performances are better than others, but most scenes seem uncomfortably juxtaposed together. The editing is WAY too lose. Most shots need to be tightened extensively. The sound mix is WAY too hot. The classic "Halloween" trick of loud music stings to make an audience member jump is over used (this is putting it mildly. It was used so often as a device, it's almost to the point of abuse).
There is one moment in the movie the device is used effectively. It actually made me leap from my seat. But in all, poorly timed and poorly executed.
Once the third act begins, the movie picks up considerably. A unique blend of antagonists keeps the viewer interested and the imagery kicks into high gear. There's a great sweeping pan shot of a room transformation that is reminiscent of "Nightmare on Elms Street". Beautifully executed and wonderfully portrayed, even the actors seem more on. I don't know what the difference was, but this third act is more comparable to the opening scene. This act saves the movie from being a boring B to a remarkable B, most definitely worthy of distribution.
The lighting is great in the film throughout and color grade is well done. Special Effects and Make-up? Bravo! It's obvious that the budget was tight with this film, but great work. There's a surprising mix of stunts and pyrotechnics, that are handled masterfully. Apparently, according to the producers, the set burned down and two crew members caught fire. But in the film it looks great! All in all it has a slow momentum, but really finds its unique blend in the third act. This will definitely find a dedicated audience. The climax is a fun romp that concludes with a scene reminiscent of the final boss from the "Splatterhouse" video game. Horror enthusiasts will definitely want to check this one out.
After so many typical and rubbish 'Teen' Horror type movies lately or the horrifically gory Saw type movies (which I personally don't class as true horrors, but some kind of sick mind warp class of genre), it was nice to see something refreshingly different. This movie is by no means not the best horror film ever made, BUT its light hearted sarcasm make a nice comedy touch, whilst the scary moments are quite chilling, and the effects made me jump. Loved the story line and cast. This film has a nice 'could watch again' feel to it, especially on a dark winters night for added atmosphere. This has what I like about horror movies.... oh and Dominic Purcell is always nice to see ;-)
There are two types of "horror" films: There are the scary ones, which is what the word "horror" means in the first place, and then there is the bloody, gory kind. Perhaps the latter kind should be categorized under another name. At any rate, Grave Dancers is a good horror film. It goes beyond the idea of typical ghosts in sheets jumping out of nowhere and saying "boo!".Most of the adventure takes place in their world rather than ours, although we cannot see what is going on there. This is a very thrilling movie. It has great special effects and all of the scare elements that make a horror film what it is supposed to be. This is the only movie I want to see 100 times at the theater, partly to watch others' reactions. I have heard though that the film is the victim of some type of curse. No idea whether this is true or not but it is a rumor going round. I guess anything is possible. All in all, this is one of the best indie films ever for the indie horror genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Beginning as most cheap horror films do with the death of a pretty young female, The Grave Dancers lacks the opening to draw in the viewer. It's not until after the opening credits, a funeral and a reunion of three old friends that the story takes off and grabs a hold of the viewer's attention. In a drunken haze, the three friends decide to say goodbye to their friend one last time by going to the gravesite and paying their condolences. Awaiting their arrival for no apparent reason is a note atop the tombstone that intrigues them all to dance on separate graves. As the sun rises and the three friends return to there separate lives, all of them begin to notice strange occurrences going on in their lives. With every passing day getting worse, the three friends begin to fear for their lives as the ghost like scares become physical. For those of you who like ghost stories and witchcraft, The Grave Dancers is right for you. With a cast of beautiful actors, this film is sure to keep you interested till the very end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**BIG BIG SPOILERS!*** I went with my best friend to The Gravedancers
during Horrorfest only because her boyfriend wasn't able to. (He took
her to all the other Horrorfest movies she wanted to see) I go with her
to a lot of scary movies even though I get quite scared. I was
particularly scared to go to this one because of how scary it was
supposed to be. There was a particular picture on the Horrorfest
web-site which made one of the ghosts look like she didn't have lips..
just bloody exposed teeth.
I scare easily and through the first bit of the movie I was quite tense. The director got me with the cheep scares (my friend kept saying things like "oh shes gonna get gutted!" as the suspense built which made it worse) the plot was fairly slow and predictable. It was boring except for getting startled every few minuets.
One of the three college friends, Keria, is haunted by a rapist. The process of them going into her now destroyed house and finding her petrified and hurt was well done and scary. Once they were in the hospital though things went to pieces...
In an abandoned hall the married mans wife sees a body covered with a sheet on a gurney. she walks toward it and blood starts soaking the sheet and dripping on the floor (quite creepy) she turns to call for a doctor (because she's not smart enough to figure out that it's the ghost) and the ghost grabs her wrist and sits up (It's face still covered with the now blood-soaked sheet) The woman pulls her hand away and the gurney starts rolling and she drags it down the hall with her! It was so funny. It was really creepy until the bed started rolling.
It was hard to be scared again once I had laughed... I tried to take it seriously but then once they actually started showing the ghosts I just had to laugh.
The ax murderer/piano teacher looks like a very happy woman in a nightgown covered in red paint... oh and she had this ax. The Pyromanic child looks like a bloated bobble head doll that simply bursts into flames and hugs the man he's haunting. And the rapist (I was most disappointed in) was a yellow giant with a pot belly. Why would he be yellow? regardless he reminded me of a poorly made puppet version of "the yellow bastard" from Sin City.
The dialog and acting is painfully awful... At one point one guy (I can't remember the two guys names) brings up that the married guy had made out with Kiera, in front of the married mans wife. And the whole audience had the same reaction (Man: and you wouldn't have made out with Kiera! Audience: Ohohhh BURN!! *Laughs*) Later Kiera's neck is slit... and someone says "I think shes losing too much blood" you think? its all over the table and floor!
the conclusion was ridiculous. people jump out of five story windows and are unharmed, Jeeps drive through brick walls and iron fences... And in the basketball game with the ghosts skull the professor makes a HUGE slam dunk saving the day! As a scary movie it failed... miserably despite the fact that I think the idea had potential. It was comical though. I may buy it just because it was amusing. I gave it four out of ten because it made me laugh and I walked out of the theater smiling.. even though it wasn't what it meant to be.
I was lucky enough to see "Gravedancers" at Another Hole in the Head
film festival in S.F., if you were not one of the lucky members of the
audience, keep your eyes peeled for the DVD you won't be disappointed.
For fans of director Mike Mendez, who's know for adding comedic elements to his films, "Gravedancers" is a slight departure from his previous work on films like "The Convent". This time Mendez goes the straight horror route and it works out magnificently. While there are moments of genuine levity, it never distracts from the film, as proved by the screams echoing from the audience at the Roxie last night. "Gravedancers" is a unique take on the rather stale "haunting" formula, and is full of self-aware characters in a well rounded script that doesn't send stupid people into stupid situations.
I was shocked at how great the film looked, if you held this film up next to any of those crappy bloated multiplex horror flicks starring some blonde ditz from a forgettable UPN/WB show, I think you'd have a hard time figuring out which cost more. The atmosphere is perfectly creepy and has many moments that will have you squirming in your seat. Great sound effects and prosthetics add to create some truly creepy ghosts, and probably the best use of a "floating ghost" since the original "House on Haunted Hill". It may have taken almost 50 years but at least somebody has made ghosts scary again. Three cheers for Mike Mendez.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Three friends are reunited after the death of a fellow Chum. After consuming plenty of liquor at a local pub Sid (Thomas) suggests they go to the graveyard to visit the grave of their buddy. Being drunk they others agree and once there Sid finds a poem on the grave that he reads aloud. The poem suggests dancing on the grave of the dead and the three inebriated friends due this. A curse is hatched and the angry spirits of the graves that were danced upon begin to make reality a living hell for our three friends. Some decent acting and some truly scary ghosts save this film from a rather ridiculous plot and storyline. The silly idea that grown adults would actually do this dance, drunk or not, is stretching things as far as you can. Still the movie makes up for it with some solid scares and a touch of atmosphere. The ghosts are downright creepy and have a nasty edge to them which provides 'The Gravedancers" with its scariest moments. If you can force yourself to go where the story wants to take you, this movie has some scares in it and some fun to be had.
When it comes to horror movies, I'm not very demanding. It probably
helps that I'm spooked pretty easily. Rating a horror movie is never
done in the way one rates "serious fare," such as "Atonement," or
"Casablanca," which is another reason. The rules that govern movies
such as my given examples do not apply to the horror genre. That being
said, horror movies have to deliver the goods that they promise. "The
Gravedancers," one of the "8 Films to Die For" in the 2006 AfterDark
HorrorFest, contains some spooky and freaky moments, but it is by no
means an unqualified success.
After the funeral of one of their college friends, Harris (Dominic Purcell), Sid (Marcus Thomas) and Kyra (Josie Maran) find a note amongst the flowers with a poem telling the to "celebrate life." To that end, they dance on some graves (all three of them are completely wasted at this point). Unbeknownst to them, they have subjected themselves to a curse by the graves they danced on, which include: a pyromaniac, a murdering adulteress, and a sadist. They seek the help of a pair of parapsychologists, Vincent Cochet (Tcheky Karyo) and Frances Culpepper (Megahn Perry) to help them survive.
Acting is never a definitive requisite for horror movies. Protagonists usually take the form of the "average guy," and this makes less interesting (this doesn't just apply to horror movies; most movies that have "average guy" characters as leads suffer from this problem). Additionally, most horror movie villains don't talk, which eliminates this problem (although there are exceptions). Therefore, acting ability only matters so far as we can care about their fate, or failing that, they aren't so annoying/badly acted that we actively wish for them to die (women have an additional requirement: good looks and the ability to belt out a great scream). The acting in "The Gravedancers" is on the lesser side of the in between. Dominic Purcell is so low-key that he's just dull, and his cursed co-stars don't fare much better. Tcheky Karyo is an interesting character actor in his own right, and would seem to be right at home in his role as the wannabe Ghostbuster. Sadly though, it is immediately clear that he does not want to be a part of this film, and plays his role as if he were forced to do it. The bright spot in terms of acting is Meghan Perry, who is delightful as the somewhat sassy and sarcastic Frances.
The most important part of creating an effective horror movie is generating an ominous atmosphere and properly pacing the story. Director Mike Mendez tries to do both, but fails. He lays the atmosphere on thickly, but it isn't effective. The first part of the film is poorly paced, and that is the film's biggest flaw. In order to generate tension, it must be built slowly. Even the all-out action thrillers like "The Descent" or "Aliens" (which was a sequel, so audiences were already freaked out by the aliens before they walked into the theater) had a starting point for the thrills. "The Gravedancers" doesn't do that. It skips the build-up and goes straight for the scares. Pacing issues are resolved one Vincent and Frances enter the picture, but suffice it to say, the film doesn't get off to a good start. Worse, he uses some quick cuts to "build tension" in some scenes, but thankfully, he doesn't do it often, and never during the action scenes (which begs the question why he would do it in the first place...) Although it's not a classic, it's watchable and contains a few good spooky moments. If anything, it's a outlet for those who like their horror violent, and with actual blood.
A surprisingly-good B horror about three idiots who unintentionally
desecrate three graves by dancing of them and are thus haunted by the
three criminally-insane individuals they belong too. Much credit to the
director, Mike Mendez, who manages to create suspense - a rare
achievement nowadays - and good special effects for the spooks and
scares despite a probably-low budget.
It really makes one think: if the ghosts could look so good on a low budget, why aren't they as such in other B horrors? Is it just the skill of special effects people? Or does some of the credit go to the director as well? It would explain it if the latter, since anyone with vague directorial skills seems to be able to get a horror movie released nowadays.
The more I think about the movie the more I like it, though it's probably because it plays to some my biases. I'm inclined to favor suspense, minimal gore, and spooks that are criminally-insane, though only if they have interesting background stories. It's probably why I really liked Session 9 too, despite most other people finding it too slow.
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