Directed By: Mike Mendez
Starring: Dominic Purcell, Clare Kramer, Josie Maram
Tag line: "Unrest in Peace"
Trivia: The actors met for the first time just two days before shooting began
Right off the bat, let me state for the record that The Gravedancers is not a perfect movie; there are problems at the very beginning of the film (the story gets off to a slow, not to mention predictable,start) as well as the very end (the final few minutes are downright goofy). But any and all weaknesses present in The Gravedancers are ultimately overshadowed by a handful of very inventive, very creepy moments, which are held together by three of the most fascinating ghosts you're likely to ever come across.
As the funeral for an old friend of theirs is winding down, college buddies Harris (Dominic Purcell), Kira (Josie Maran), and Sid (Marcus Thomas) decide to drive back to the cemetery to give their deceased pal a “proper” send-off. After a few hours of heavy drinking, Sid spots a black envelope leaning against their friend's headstone, inside which is a poem about the joys of life. In their drunken stupor, the friends follow one of the poem's instructions, and dance on several nearby graves. But they soon learn the error of their ways when, over the course of the next several weeks, all three start to experience strange phenomenons, some of which are violent in nature. In desperation, they turn to a pair of paranormal investigators, Vincent (Tchéky Karyo) and Frances (Megahn Perry), who conclude that the poem Sid found in the cemetery was, in fact, a curse, and that the spirits of those whose graves the trio danced upon have returned to seek their revenge. As the ghostly attacks grow ever more intense, the three friends must resort to extreme measures if they're to have any chance at all of surviving this frightening ordeal.
As I stated above, The Gravedancers doesn't get off to a good start. For one, the scene in the graveyard, where the friends “dance” on the graves, feels a little awkward (probably because none of the three leads are particularly convincing as drunks). Also, their first few “encounters” with the supernatural are about as routine as you can get (While installing an alarm system, Harris hears piano music coming from the other room. Of course, when he investigates, there's nobody sitting at the piano). But all that changes the moment Harris' wife, Allison (Clare Kramer), has a run-in with a truly frightening ghost, one that seems intent on doing her harm. All at once, events in The Gravedancers begin unfolding at a rapid pace, leading up to what I feel is the film's best sequence, where we learn the identities of the spirits "haunting" the three friends. To avoid spoilers, I won't go into too much detail, but I will say that the back stories of the various apparitions are fascinating, to say the least. From there on, I couldn't wait to see how the rest of the story would play out, and with the exception of the ridiculous ending, The Gravedancers lived up to all my expectations.
Imperfections aside, The Gravedancers is a very entertaining horror film, and while many of the ghostly scares won't be among the most original you've ever seen, the ghosts themselves, pent-up hostilities and all, will more than make up for it.