"The Gravedancers", one of the 8 Films To Die For at the After Dark Horrorfest, is a surprisingly original little supernatural horror movie. The film centers around three long-time friends - Kira, Sid, and Harris. After their close friend dies, Kira and Harris show up for the funeral, and later meet up with Sid, who decided not to attend it. Wanting to say goodbye, Sid convinces them to go out to the graveyard with him, where things get out of hand after the three have been drinking, and they ultimately end up dancing around the cemetery on some graves. Unfortunately for them, they danced upon the graves of just about the worst people possible - and soon find themselves haunted by the ghosts of a child pyromaniac, a woman who killed her lover with an axe, and a sadistic sexual murderer who was the town judge. They decide to seek help in two parapsychologists, and try and survive until the curse ends - but can they?
Definitely one of the better films to be part of the After Dark Horror Fest, "The Gravedancers" is a pretty original movie that captures the style of '70s and '80s supernatural horror films. Storywise, I thought it was pretty unique. The entire idea of desecrating someone's grave and having the spirit come back to haunt you is unique, and the first time I've seen something like it done in the genre. The writing is pretty good here, and the movie was entertaining and significantly thrilling at times. It plods a bit in areas, but during the last thirty minutes things really kick in. There are a few typical scare moments in the movie though (and there are some clichés that abound), but for the most part I thought this film at least tried to avoid most of the clichéd horror set-ups, which was a real benefit here. There is actually some really scary substance here, and I was genuinely spooked by some scenes in this film. The director took good advantage of those "things that go bump in the night" kind of scares, and they are effectively used and really creepy.
As far as the acting goes, it isn't bad. Could have been more convincing I suppose, but I thought everyone gave competent performances. Dominic Purcell (of TV's "Prison Break") is our main lead, and Clare Kramer ("Bring It On" and TV's "Buffy The Vampire Slayer") plays his wife. The acting isn't bad, it's a little bit lacking on some occasions, but overall good enough. The only real complaint I have is the special effects used in the film. The strange thing about this is that they are really good in some scenes, but in others just not. The incarnations of the ghosts are leaning on the corny side, mainly because of the facial makeup (grinning teeth, large eyes - something that almost looks like a Halloween mask). I think a more subtle make up would have been more realistic. And the CGI blowout during the last ten minutes of the film was a little overdone I felt, but I'm not going to complain too much, I'd rather just take this movie for what it is.
Overall, "The Gravedancers" is a horror movie that is worth watching. It delivers a fairly original story and some really nice scares, which are always welcome. In some respects it's a bit corny (mostly with it's special effects usage), but the film is done in a style that is reminiscent of past horror films, so these things are forgivable considering that it's a throwback-type of movie. I'm assuming the budget for this film was pretty modest as well, and taking that into consideration, this movie was pretty well done. Worth a look for horror fans. 7/10.
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