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This was a film that I had the pleasure of watching early when the reps over at DarkCoast Films asked if I would be interested in giving this a review for a site that I write for. I'm always interested in reviewing independent films like this so I confirmed. I came into this one blind, only having looked at the cast and when I saw Jake Busey, I was definitely intrigued more. The synopsis is the town of Mt. Moriah comes under the thumb of Martha (Shiloh Verrico), a ghost who comes back to haunt the teens who witnessed her death as a children during a 'game' of 'Ghost in the Graveyard'.
We get an interesting cold open here of the children from the synopsis in the graveyard playing this game. I'm not completely familiar with it, but it looks to be a hybrid of hide-and-seek and tag. Sally (Faye Giordano) hides near a mausoleum and being intercut is creepy chanting. It is during this that we see Martha at the bottom of a grave, reaching up to Sally, but they're just out of reach.
It then shifts to the present, 10 years later. Sally (now Kelli Berglund) is returning home. Her father is Charlie (Jake Busey) and her brother is Billy (Zebedee Row). She is trying to return her life to normalcy, but her father wants her to be a kid. It is her senior year and a friend Reed (Joah Carmody) comes to pick her up.
They go to school where we encounter the girls she used to hang out. They're led by Zoe (Olivia Larsen) who is the leader of these mean girls. She's also been seeing Reed while Sally has been away and she starts to pick on her. They all have class together where Sister Brigit (Mary Anisi) is teaching them the Book of Revelations from the bible.
Sally is looked down on because she's seeing the ghost of Martha. She's not the only one though. We see a boy on a dare ride his bike through the cemetery she haunts. He approaches her grave and sees the little girl. He crashes and is attacked by someone. This doesn't seem to shake the community like you'd think. There's a dark secret within the town and a cult is behind quite a bit that is going on. They are really interested in Sally. She starts to look into past and things aren't really as they seem.
I have to say that there's not been a lot out about this film, which is surprising because I actually enjoyed this. Something that really ticks boxes for me is cults. They don't really play it up as much as I would have liked here, but we get glimpses of it. I also don't know a lot about this game 'Ghost in the Graveyard', but I really like the idea to kick the movie off. That becomes a problem for me though, as it does get referenced later, it justdoesn't go anywhere.
For this I also think that the film kind of loses its way. The build up we get to start this off is great. I like the supernatural aspects. They actually get pretty creepy and I think the effects there work well. I'm assuming there's some CGI that is used, but it is seamlessly used along with practical effects. I can definitely get behind that and it didn't take me out. This does well in having things happening where our characters can't see it and that makes me feel uneasy. They really know how to shoot things like that here which is a plus for sure.
Where I feel like this loses its way though is that they get away from what works in the beginning and go a bit too grand here. I don't mind the reveal that they make, but I think it was a bit too much. I think this actually hurts the pacing as it loses me. The climax is good, but I really want to know more about the cult and even using the game. The ending is a bit too much feeling like it should be in the Marvel universe as characters find their 'calling'.
Shifting to this to the acting, I think that it is really hit or miss if I'm honest. The lead Berglund was really good. I like her look and how she plays the character. The only issue I can see is that we don't know how long she was away, but she's very fashionable. All of these students though don't look like they're the right age in how they look and dress. Busey was solid in his supporting role. Larsen is up and down in her performance. She comes off as a mean girl, but then befriends Sally and her home life doesn't fit. I also didn't really care for Carmody's performance if I'm honest. Some of the children are a bit iffy, but I'll give credit to Verrico. She was creepy as Martha. The rest of the cast was fine though and rounded this out for what was needed.
Now with that said, this film really did hook me in, but it fortunately lost me as it went. I think they had a really good concept here and the build up to establish it. I just think they tried to go a bit big with the idea and lost its way. It does build tension, but the ending I think was a bit too cheery for me. The acting is hit or miss as well. There are definitely some bright spots though. I did think that effects were good and how this was shot did make me feel uncomfortable at times. The soundtrack didn't necessarily stand out to me, but it did fit for what they needed. Overall I'd say this is above average and worth a watch.
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