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The Gravedancers (2006)

  Tags: After Dark Films, Clare Kramer, Dominic Purcell, ghosts, haunting, Josie Maran, Mike Mendez, Tcheky Karyo, The Gravedancers

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Mike Mendez
96 minutes
Dominic Purcell, Josie Maran, Clare Kramer, Tcheky Karyo

Released to theaters as part of After Dark Films 8 Films to Die For horror fest, this movie probably wouldn't have been so widely seen aside from its eventual DVD release in '07. I've been following director Mike Mendez since viewing his first film Real Killers and The Convent back in 2000. Both films proved that a relatively unknown director could accomplish a lot with very little. The man knew how to successfully combine horror and action into one project and even though they may not be the best films, they sure were fun to watch.

After working on the Boogeyman II horror-docu compilation, he returns with The Gravedancers. Using a bigger budget than he's used to, Mike Mendez once again uses the same formula of action and horror to bring forth another entertaining movie-going experience. The film isn't the smartest in terms of scripts, but it does offer some slight originality by the way they depict their ghosts and how they decide to use three instead of just one spirit. Of course using more than one spirit has been done in the past, it's just refreshing to see it resurface among this recent wave of Asian-remake horror that generally revolves around the same kind of scares and ghosts.

The story follows three friends as they visit a friend's grave one night and in order to cope with the sudden death, they drink their sorrows away. After reciting some lines from a mysterious piece of paper that was left on one of the graves (which turned out to be some sort of scripture that unleashes the spirits) each of the drunkards ends up dancing on specific graves in what's secretly known as the "psycho section" due to the fact that the bodies buried there were of sadists and murders.

What might have seemed like a good idea at the time turns out to be the demise for each of our characters, as the spirit on the grave that each person danced on comes after them and attempts to kill them in the same fashion as they did to their victims when they were still living. From the sadistic court judge, the jealous cold-hearted axe-wielding wife, and the young pyromaniac child, our leads are in over their heads. The friends recruit the aid of a couple parapsychologists in hopes of somehow finding a way to stop these evil spirits before it's too late.

Being a fan of Fox's Prison Break, it was nice to see actor Dominic Purcell as the lead and following another horror role after his appearance as the villain in Blade: Trinity. I personally didn't find any scenes of the movie scary, but a couple scenes were somewhat creepy due to how these spirits looked. I always thought the over-sized smiling mouth and wide-eyes was always a scary feature to be on anyone, and I always questioned why it was never used in horror films.

The pacing for the film is perfect -- never going too fast or too slow, and the story unfolds as it should. The movie really only begins to fall apart when it came down to the over-the-top climax. Why they chose to end it with a huge computer-generated extravaganza is beyond me, but it just ruined the tone of the film and just seemed to be an attempt to wrap things up. Regardless, the rest of the movie was a enjoyable experience for me, and I plan to add it to my DVD collection when it's released next year.

If you see this with an open mind and don't take it seriously then you'll probably end up enjoying it as much as I did. With creepy and original-looking ghosts, the movie stands above some of the recent crap we've seen delivered in mainstream horror. Check this out when you can, and after you do, try to forget its ridiculous and over-the-top climax.

Posted on June 15, 2010 - 1:23pm | FrighT MasteR