Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Gravedancers (2006; Mike Mendez)

Ah, yes. The wonderful After Dark Horrorfest. A newer horror festival that showcases eight horror films a year. I, having not seen all of them, can really pass no judgment on the festival as a whole, but what I can say, is out of the ones I have seen...

This festival is nothing special.

Now to the feature of this review, The Gravedancers. A horror film that had me going at first, but grew too ambitious and suffered from a very common mistake that people just cannot seem to get over.

On to the bulk of this review... We are thrown right into this movie screaming. Not so much are we screaming, it's more the woman on the screen who is screaming. We are shown a brief struggle with an invisible foe (more on that later) then she is thrown over a staircase and is hung. I must add, it is a very nice shot, and I commend whom ever was in charge of the camera.

One year later... We are dropped into a funeral with the camera focusing on three snapping people in there... twenties? I don't know, I can't judge age. Anyway, there is a dude, and two girls. As to make one-hundred percent sure that we realize this, we are shown many times the tension between the girls over the dude, so I am just getting that out of the way now.

To make this short and simple so I can get into the more enjoyable part of actually reviewing, another guy comes along, three of the four characters dance on some graves while drunk, and then they become haunted.

Now, for the opinions. This movie (after the opening scene of the girl getting hung) has a very strong first half hour or so when it is dealing with just the first dude and his wife (I don't use names because I don't care enough about this film; on films I love more I promise I will use their names). There are some very real chills, and even some scares. Which brings me to the.. ghost/zombie things. I am torn, in all honesty. As shown above, they are very scary looking fellas, and I was very impressed at how scary they actually look. However, the director (Mike Mendez, director of The Convent. Never seen it myself, but it is suppose to be enjoyable? Don't take my word for that until I review it one day) felt the need to add some really obnoxious computer animated... smoke? around them (it looks like Dragon Ball Z characters when they are "charging up") which really kills any form of enjoyment while they are on screen.

Talking about the monsters takes me to the opening scene, and the thing that too many people do that I hinted at in the very start of this. First off, fights with invisible things are not scary. They aren't even enjoyable. You are just watching some person flail about and scream. I don't care how well they can act, I will never be able to get past that, and therefore will never enjoy scenes like that. Second, the thing people do too much. Stop showing so much of the monsters. People really need to learn that it is often scarier to leave the "bad guy" in the dark throughout most of the movie. The main characters actually get into fights with the monsters, so you see them on the screen for extended periods of time. No. Monsters are only effective if they are flashed at you for very brief moments of time or if they happen to be absolutely disgusting, foul concoctions that you can't help but want to throw up at the very mention.

As for the over ambition, Mike Mendez must have decided that the Dragon Ball Z monsters weren't scary enough, and seeing as he was so impressed with his (actually not very good) computer animators, he felt that he would make the last twenty minutes buried in it. Needless to say, if I wanted to watch cartoons (which is essentially what computer animation is, sorry if that upsets you) I would watch them on television for free.

Even after that very extensive list of complaints, I will manage to pull a small list of good notes. Some of the camera work (mostly during the first half that I enjoyed so much) worked very well, and gave off the sense that they knew what they were doing. The score is nothing to write home about, but it also could have been a hell of a lot worse.

So after all of that writing...

Score: 2/5

Notes: Actually has some tense moments; No gore (frown)

No comments: