Dig Two Graves Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Area23A
Directed by Hunter Adams
Written by Hunter Adams and Jeremy Phillips
2017, 85 minutes, Not Rated
Released on April 21st, 2017
Starring:Ted Levine as Sheriff Waterhouse
Samantha Isler as Jake Mather
Danny Goldring as Proctor
Troy Ruptash as Wyeth
Jacqueline “Jake” Mather is too young to live with regret. She promised she’d jump off the cliff into the swimming quarry with her brother, but when she chickened out, she had to watch him go under...and never surface again. Desperately missing him, she is sought out by a mysterious trio of brothers who know who she is, and what she wants. If she wants her brother back, all she has to do is find someone to take his place. But if she chooses to trade someone else’s life for her brother’s, can she live with that choice?
Dig Two Graves revolves around a middle schooler and seems to contain the same intricacy of an eighth-grade English assignment. A mildly interesting but undeveloped mystery, constructed but loosely-defined characters, and a shocking but not condemned crime, make for a very underwhelming story.
Billed as a mystery/fantasy, there’s nothing fantastic about the trio of brothers. Makeup is applied to make the poor hillfolk of rural Illinois look like sideshow performers, but with the comical way in which the actors perform, or were directed to perform, negates any perceived threat. Troy Ruptash as Wyeth makes the furthest reach towards characterization, but he can’t overcome the mediocrity of his co-stars. Writer/director Hunter Adams employs a topless snake dancer living with the brothers to attempt a layer of mysticism, but a half-naked woman with no lines or purpose slinking around a child actor just comes off as exploitive and lurid. Ted Levine has excellent gravity as Sheriff Waterhouse, but without strong direction his folksy advice and tragic regret grow patronizing and obnoxious. Samantha Isler is passable as the troubled tween, but again, a stronger director would have brought out a performance rather than just an appearance.
Perhaps most irritating is the use of Confucius’ adage, “He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves; one for his enemy, and one for himself.” The reason the hillfolk approach Jake to commit murder is a damn good one. And Waterhouse’s involvement and complacency in this conspiracy is appalling and unforgiveable while the final sequences ask him to be viewed as a hero. Dig Two Graves doesn’t hold itself of its characters accountable to viewers.
The best part of Dig Two Graves is Eric Maddison’s extraordinary cinematography. He captures the beauty of the natural landscape of Illinois, including a lightning storm reminiscent of an immersive IMAX feature on weather. The color composition of his shots are gorgeous, and light is played with just enough to inspire rather than distract.
But movies are not made to be watched with the sound off, and Dig Two Graves excavates a shallow attempt at storytelling.