Dig Two Graves (2017): A Wonderful Gothic Horror Exploring the Cost of Revenge

      “Dig Two Graves” is an indie film that was finally released off the Festival Circuit this year. It first premiered at the Midwest Independent Film Festival in 2015 and later that year at Beaufort International Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival and Beloit International Film Festival (winning awards at the later 3 festivals) it was finally released to the greater public this year, so I’m including it in the films released this year.

This is a wonderful film that explores the cost of revenge and the price that we way for the evils done to others. It has a strong Gothic undercurrent to it and works really with the small cast it has. My biggest issue is length and character development. The film really could have been longer and from that, the character motivations explored a lot better.

The film was directed by Hunter Adams, who co-wrote the film with Jeremy Philips while the film was produced by P.J. Fishwick and Claire Connelly.

The story begins in the 1940s with Sheriff Proctor and Deputy Waterhouse dumping two bodies into the quarry. It is here the Sheriff is forced to give up his badge and we jump to the present day with his granddaughter and grandson Jake and Sean are at the quarry with Sean jumping off. When Jake panics 3 strange men approach her and say she can bring her brother back to life, all she has to do is kill another to take his place. From here the story unfolds.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Cinematography – Eric Maddeson did a fantastic job on the cinematography as the film feels like you are in a dark fairy tale. The color is slightly off in the flashbacks but they usually always line up to events happening in modern day and the use of darkness and shadows, especially in presentation of the Three Brothers is simply beautiful. This is easily one of the best looking Indie films out there.

Presentation of Time – One of the major themes of the story is events repeated through time. We get the flashback in the 1940’s with the Sheriff and his deputy and how it ties into modern days with the Brothers making a deal with his granddaughter. From here events unfold as we come to see what motivates the characters.

The Cost of Revenge – The main theme, that honestly could have been done better is that of revenge. In the end the 3 brothers are the sympathetic ones, not the granddaughter or grandson as the grandfather is simply a villain who cares about his family. In the end he does save his granddaughter and the brother succeed but they all die in the process. This is where the name of the title comes from, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Basically don’t expect to come back and that is what it does as he seeks revenge against them and them against him. It was rewarding when the Sheriff finally gets killed given everything he did.

The 3 Brothers and the Sheriff – The sheriff is a racist (his harassing of the Roma family) a rapist (he rapes their mother as does his deputy) and only doesn’t kill the kids because his deputy appeals to what little empathy he has in him…so murder on top of that since he kills the father of the brothers. The brothers are wonderful as they seem to be a mini satanic cult that uses snakes as a part of worship. They are outside society, and given what happened to their parents it makes sense. I wanted to know more about what they were doing though as they seemed to be living in the wild and were the most compelling characters in the film.

Okay: The Rest of the Cast – The grandfather’s daughter is just kind of there, the granddaughter and her classmate have only as much development to show us they are outsiders. Their motivations and ways of being really aren’t explored that well. This was a shame as with a better written story these characters could have been really compelling.

The Cons: Needed More Character Development – This a film that could have been longer as so many of the characters needed to be developed more. This was still a really good movie and one I’d highly recommend. I wouldn’t call it a favorite because I’m not sure if I’d watch it again anytime soon but it is well worth the time.

This is a great horror film that is well worth your time if you enjoy indie films and horror films. The themes are powerful, the story and how it is told is compelling and the older actors do a great job in their roles, though sadly the same cannot be said of the rest of the characters, this is a film that could have been great if we’d had more time with the characters who fleshed out the world. It is currently on Netflix so if you are interested, check it out. I doubt you will be disappointed.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Interview with the Vampire (1994): A Lot of Good Ideas But no Focus

k Interview with the Vampire

   Anne Rice wrote the screenplay for this film and part of me curious if her books are any better because there were some great ideas in here along the lines of living a cursed life or what it would be like to be immortal…but that is all lost on the focus on bringing characters back, even if their arcs are done. Because of this there was no focus in the theme, characters and story which kept it from being a good film…though I admit I did enjoy this film.

     “Interview with the Vampire” was directed by Neil Jordan, written by Anne Rice, who also wrote the book of the same name and produced by David Geffen and Stephen Woolley.

     The story involves Louis (Brad Pitt) telling the story of his transformation and life as a vampire to the reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater) and his relationship to his creator Lestat (Tom Cruise) and the daughter Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) they create while facing the curse of their existence.

The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography is stunning and captures the Gothic vampire theme extremely well. I enjoyed watching scenes that went nowhere because of how visually great they were, and the great acting by the main characters.

The Action – The action in this was also great. It was gory and captured the horror and sexuality of having blood sucked away really well. It captured being a traditional vampire really well in that way as well as the mystery and terror of what you cannot see or understand.

Claudia – Kirsten Dunst is great as the woman trapped as a child who is reckless and selfish but in the end just wants her mother and to be loved. In the end she finds it but is destroyed for attempting to kill Lestat.

Lestat – Tom Cruise does a wonderful job as this insane vampire who turns Louis and is the perfect example of privilege and no boundaries. He is always trying to manipulate Louis into him and his disregard for his is that of predator and prey. It is only when is vulnerable that he opens up truly and is shows how grateful he is that Louis doesn’t seem as trapped as him. Sadly this is erased when he somehow manages to get blood again through unexplained reasons.

Armand – Antonio Banderas is an awesome vampire who is ancient and craves to adapt and change but is still just as selfish as all the other as the he lets Claudia and her mom die so he can only have Louis. He is just much an immortal child as the rest of them, though with him it feels tragic as he distant and is isn’t as explicitly bad.

Louis – Brad Pitt is wonderful and works with what he has, which making Louis a white slave owner who is admired by his slaves. Anne Rice’s twisted idealism here was really bad and the best part was the slaves burning down his house. He gets beyond that and I’m glad he carries his guilt, he just never does anything to help others which sadly limits the talent of Pitt and what he can do. He does a good job though.

Okay: Daniel Molloy – The reporter misses all the horrible things that are done and disregards life just as must as Lestat…in that way him being turned seemed inevitable. Really wanted more complexity with this character. He is more Lestat without the crazy which makes him interesting but not a good character.

The Cons: The Vampires – They are all hedonists or insane which was just bad…there has got to be immortality and how people choose to live than that, even if cursed. They felt wasted…no diversity of characters or interactions beyond Armand.

Lestat never Dies – This character is nearly killed twice but he always lives. This was never explained and made no sense at all. It felt gratuitous.

The Slave Owner – His slaves respect him…really, Anne Rice seemed to miss what it actually means like to be a slave and losing agency. Slaves and ex-slaves are the constant victims of vampires (Lestat and Louis specifically) and it is never addressed. Instead Claudia is saved showed there was never a point Louis saw his slaves as human beings.

Character Arcs – The characters don’t go anywhere. Claudia turns her mother but that goes nowhere as they are killed by he vampires, Lestat is vulnerable but still disregards life and his same shtick of maiming a person to near death and offering them immortality and brooding Louis stays brooding Louis. What was the point of sharing his story anyway?

   This was a film that had great characters but went nowhere with any of them. Louis is still the cursed vampire who kills people, he never grows. Lestat is still crazy and hasn’t been changed from being vulnerable and Armand just disappears. What was the point of these characters if they never change? To me this was the biggest problem and kept it from being good. Not even good acting can save a script that doesn’t know where it was going and what it wants and I did not know what Anne Rice wanted from this film or story.

Final Score: 6.5 / 10