The Graves Movie Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released Anchor Bay Entertainment
I ain't in now hurry. Nope. However long it takes...it takes. – Jonah
Written and directed by Brian Pulido
2009, 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on May 31st, 2010
Clare Grant as Megan Graves
Jillian Murray as Abby Graves
Bill Moseley as Caleb Atwood
Tony Todd as Reverend Abraham Stockton
Amanda Wyss as Darleen Atwood
Randy Blythe as Deacon Luke
Shane Stevens as Jonah Lee Atwood
Barbara Glover as Mama
I'm a forgiving person when it comes to low-budget movies. Things don't come easy for filmmakers working on a (relatively) small budget, so I'll grant a lot more leeway than I would with a "Hollywood" production. So when I suffer through a piece of shit like The Graves, I get angry — especially when the film has both talent and a decent location, only to be mangled by a piss-poor script and even worse directing.
The story of The Graves isn't anything you haven't seen before. Megan (Clare Grant) and Abby Graves (Jillian Murray), sisters, are on their way cross country in search of the world's biggest thermometer (!) when they inexplicably get lost. The two stop at a local diner for directions where they see the ornery Reverend Stockton (Tony Todd – Candyman) and his strange sidekick for the first time (this, kids, is known as FORESHADOWING). The waitress explains they are way off track, but the girls happen to be fortunate enough to be a stone's throw away from Skull City, an abandoned mine town that, bonus!, is supposedly haunted. Much to Abby's dismay, Megan drags her to this little piece of Americana.
Once there, the two are hunted down by Calab (Bill Moseley) because…you know, it just doesn't matter. There's a reason for it, a reason that Reverend Stockton is behind and the whole town is involved somehow, too, but it's all irrelevant because halfway through — if you get that far — you just won't care.
The Graves is riddled with problems, least of which is the tired story that brings absolutely nothing to the table. Perhaps the most frustrating of the issues is the directing, or lack thereof, by Brian Pulido. The cast of the film is solid across the board, but Pulido does not either have the experience or the talent to make the most of them. With the exception of Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects), who may very well be the only reason to suffer through this movie, the rest of the cast is blah. I put this sorely on Pulido because it's obvious there's talent in the mix, but he fails miserably in pulling the performances out of his actors. Clare Grant as the maternal, hard-as-nails, older sister, Megan, has some really good, believable moments in the film, only to be overshadowed by the ones where she seems lost on how to act. And, hell, Tony Todd goes so over-the-top in his performance as the Reverend, it's cringe worthy. You do not make Tony Todd go over the top, because he doesn't need to. The man gets it done with understatement. Maybe Pulido didn't see the little known horror movie, Candyman.
Another massive failure is the complete lack of suspense. There is none. Zero. Sometimes you can get suspense by default when the killer is chasing the cannon fodder to their potential deaths, but when you have your characters aimlessly wander the abandoned mine town in a brisk stride in an attempt to flee the psychopath, it becomes an unintentional comedy. It doesn't help when you have one scene where the girls are literally five feet away from Caleb, and he doesn't see them. (They aren't hiding, there are no barriers between them — they are on a porch for Christ's sake. But somehow he misses them. What. The. Fuck.)
And don't even get me started when Megan sees Abby's body collapsed in the dirt and she goes the other way. Or the copious amount of obviously CGI blood. Or the majority of kills taking place off camera, so you can't even look forward to those.
Brian Pulido had a good cast and a solid location in the abandoned town, and he not only dropped the ball, he took out a gun and shot it, then rammed a knife through it, set it on fire and buried it. Then he dug it up and shit on it.
If there's any good at all to be found in this garbage, it would be the aforementioned performance by Moseley. Oh, and Barbara Glover as Mama, the operator of Skull City, was pretty damn good, too. Those two may be enough to garnish it a star, but neither of them was good enough to save this train wreck of a film.
The Graves should be avoided at all costs. No rental, no purchase and if your friend happens to suggest it on movie night, immediately punch him in the throat. If you must subject yourself to it, stream it on Netflix (if available). That way you won't have to waste a shipped disc on it.
Fuck this movie.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Not graded as this is a screener.
Click cover to purchase.