Review: ‘Dig Two Graves’ Is An Impressive Debut For Hunter Adams
“Dig Two Graves” seems to be the little independent horror film that could.
It tells the story of a girl named Jake who after her brother dies in a tragic accident is met by a mysterious figure who offers her the chance to bring him back. However, it is at a horrible cost. As the characters, especially Jake’s grandfather the Sheriff try to unravel the mystery more of the family’s bloody history reveals itself.
CINEMATICS (PLOT, ACTING, CINEMATOGRAPHY, ETC.) – 4.5
I’m not sure what the budget was. According to my research, it couldn’t be much more than a million dollars. As it was selected by the Independent Filmmaker Project which only picks scripts for films under a million dollar budget. Regardless of what I say about the rest of the film in the review, it is an impressive first outing for a filmmaker at least on a technical sense. The thing about first films, especially when they’re low-budget independent films, no matter how talented the director later turns out to be later in his career, you can almost always tell it’s a beginner film. The quality of the visuals, film stock and lighting normally gives it away. However, for the most part, the cinematography in this film is fantastic. The locations are gorgeous and very well picked. The only real complaint I have is that the story is a little lacking, but I’ll get more into that in the next section.
The acting is pretty solid. I wouldn’t say there is anyone that I think needs to be watched for later in their careers, but they’re good. Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill from “Silence of the Lambs”) is great as the sheriff. It’s a fairly standard role, but he’s been at this acting thing for a while so you know you’re in good hands with him. The young actress playing Jake, Samantha Isler (of “Captain Fantastic” fame) is good for what is asked of her. I had trouble getting into Jake for how reserved she was. Although that comes more from how this film approaches its story. The villains are just kind of bizarre to me. The lead villain reminds me visually of Coffin Joe for some reason.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE – 3
As I said, while on a technical level this is a very impressive job, the story and how it affects the audience is where it could use a little work. The middle of the film drags. As mentioned earlier I think I have trouble getting into Jake’s character. They keep her as a very closed off person which for this story I understand why, but I feel like we never get enough from her to latch on to her character. I really don’t know who she was as a person before her brother dies at the beginning. During that middle stretch it didn’t feel like they were building her character because mostly all she does is stare and say nothing.
The big moral dilemma rests on what she’ll do about this boy and honestly I couldn’t tell you what her real feelings on the matter were. It wasn’t helped that she flip-flops throughout the film. But again because I don’t feel that I know her I had no idea which side was really her. All through the movie we have flashbacks to the grandfather’s time as a deputy which are well done and once we get the full story, it almost redeems itself. I’d say if you aren’t getting into this section, just give it time to fully get to the end and you might change your tune. In fact, the final part with the grandpa was one of the most get-up-and-cheer moments I’ve seen in a non-action flick in a while.
REWATCHABILITY – 2.5
While I have no major interest in seeing it again I could see myself watching it a second time for the visuals and location work. Also, certain points of the story wouldn’t be bad to check again. So if I was to see it on TV I’d probably stop and watch.
- Entertainment Value
While not a great film, it is an impressive debut for the director. The story is an effective spin of the old monkey's paw type story. But it also tells a very engaging story of revenge and its consequences. There are flaws with it, but for the most part they come off more as charming than anything. Ted Levine like the old pro that he is, gives it his all. I give the film 3 stars out of 5.
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