Director – Mike Mendez
Cast – Dominic Purcell, Josie Maran, Clare Kramer, Marcus Thomas, Tchéky Karyo, Megahn Perry, Martha Holland, Oakley Stevenson
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The Gravedancers was my most memorable film from the very first After Dark Horrorfest back in 2006, and after viewing it for a second time 4 years later I still found this film to be an enjoyable low-budget work. Few of the Horrorfest films have been worth positive ratings, but this watch comes with possibly the highest creep factor out of all Horrorfest entries, and gives us a simple yet cool story as well.
In this watch we follow a group of friends reunited over the death of one of their buddies. Each of the friends has gone their own separate ways in life, but the reunion brings back good feelings and after a night of boozing they make a dumb and critical mistake…they snuck into a cemetery and danced on graves. Considered a vile act of desecration, the grave dancing leaves our protagonists in serious grave danger. The spirits of the desecrated graves has waged the ultimate revenge against them, which leads to a month-long fight of true terror.
Well I can honestly say that I have never seen a film like this one, and that is a big contributing factor behind why I enjoy this flick. You know I love vengeance themed films, and I love anything involving the supernatural, so when you blend them both together you get a sweet concoction that with proper execution will come off as a great watch.
Story-wise we get a unique take on burial desecration with our protagonists dancing on graves, which may come off a bit silly because it is a bit silly, but nonetheless it makes for something we have never been given before, and I’ll take that. The story is overall a simple one, and the rest of the film follows our protagonists as they are brutally assaulted by the vengeful spirits over the period of one month. Each day the spirits grow stronger and stronger, which eventually leads to horrific results during the last available night of vengeful debauchery. I really liked that each of the spirits had their own dark past, one a proud judge a who moonlighted as a rapist with a dungeon, a child who died as a result of being a fire-starter, and a woman who had a knack for killing any man who did not love her. We get a few other characters thrown in, which make for an interesting watch given they are paranormal investigators contacted to help the doomed friends. Sadly, all they can really tell them is that they are screwed, and to prepare for a fight to the death.
Direction-wise I was impressive with director Mike Mendez’s execution and his ability to bring on some good creepy horror. Right from the get-go Mendez takes off with good pacing and nice horror that never relents nor slows down much in this 95 minute film. His grainy cinematography and low-lighting provide the perfect atmosphere for the scares brought forth in this film, which thankfully were plentiful and came with the ability to deliver some goose bumps to even the genre’s most seasoned vets. I loved the look of the ghosts once they manifested themselves to the protagonists. It is sad that we get such crappy looking ghosts nowadays, because the ones in this film were completely scary and left me only wanting more of them. Sadly, the outro to the film gets a bit cheezy, which includes some insane antics involving a giant hand, which I remembered not liking when I first saw the film, and which I did not like this second time viewing the film. Thankfully, the rest of the film is positive and makes up for this slight negativity.
Overall, this is a positive watch and one of the better Horrorfest films that unlike the others manages to provide some genuinely scary scenes. We get a cool plot, good execution, and some of the creepiest looking ghosts in modern time to make this a recommended watch for fans of supernatural horror films.