It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Halloween 2, part 15: The Gravedancers (2006)

I bought this last year based on a couple of good reviews citing the film as the best of the After Dark Horrorfest series 8 Films to Die For.  What?  Better than Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror?  Inconceivable!  Anyway, the other film in the series that the pundits deemed view-worthy was Nacho Cerda's The Abandoned.  Now, I loved Cerda's previous short Aftermath, and was greatly anticipating his first feature film.  Unfortunately, the thing fell flat.  There were a few good scares along the way, but overall, The Abandoned left me wanting.  So, I set The Gravedancers aside, fearing that the punters had misled me yet again, with the halfhearted hope that I'd pop it in one October night and, with expectations fairly low, be pleasantly surprised.  And, last night, that's exactly what happened.

The Gravedancers stars Prison Break's Dominic Purcell as Harris, one of three friends who come home for the funeral of their college pal.  After spending some time in the local watering hole, Kira, Sid (the other two friends) and Harris congregate after dark in the cemetery to truly celebrate their friend's passing, not to mourn him  but to rejoice in a life well-lived.  They make the mistake of dancing on a few graves though (hence the title, duh!); baaaad mooooove.  In doing so they have desecrated the deceased, who also happened to be "undesirables" in their time on earth, we learn later.  So the rest of the film is spent with the three grave dancers dealing with paranormal activities that occur with increasing frequency and violence.

Sounds kinda dumb, and I guess it is, but I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, and I was in the mood for something a bit more lively than one of the classics (The Haunting, The Legend of Hell House, The Innocents, etc, and I like to watch Ghost Story and The Woman In Black around Christmastime for some reason...).  The Gravedancers, while not a great film, fit the bill at the time, and for some good spooky fun, you really can't go wrong.

One thing that I though was well-done was how the filmmakers used mainly practical effects, something too rare in horror these days, and relied on CGI for the climax, which, while it would have been incredible if done practically, would have been far too cost-prohibitive to produce.

I don't want to raise expectations on a film like this (I suppose I already have) - that is often the kiss of death - but if you go in not expecting anything earth-shattering, and you can excuse a little wooden acting here and there (beyond the point in a film of this ilk, no?), but instead looking instead for a good little spook show, you'll be more than pleased;  I certainly was.

Anyone have any good ghost story film recommendations?


La Sporgenza said...

Carnival of Souls, The Changling, Kwaidan, Nang Nak, The Kingdom, Gotham....

the coelacanth said...

thanks for the recs! i have never heard of nang nak, so will have to check that out...do we have it at the fbw? i'm generally not a von trier fan, bu i'm going to give the kingdom a go - never knew it was horror, and never knew it stars udo kier! yeah! gotham? do you mean gothika? i haven't seen that either...

the first three you mentioned i have seen and agree that they are all very effective chillers.