Finally a movie that reminds horror of the fact that ghosts don’t have to be Asian with long black hair to get your blood pumping.
Dominic Purcell plays Harris, the dull spearhead of a group of old college buddies reunited by a friend’s funeral. With a few drinks in them and some ritualistic instructions found by happenstance, dancing on graves seems like the best course of action. But corpses don’t like it when you mock them with that hip jumpin’ and jivin’. Especially when the toe-tapped corpses lay in the undesirable section of the graveyard reserved for the usual suspects of social deviants: specifically a sadist judge, a murdering housewife, and a pyromaniac child.
The hauntings begin with innocent, but unexplainable activity around the house. Soon enough, however, one of the friends contacts a TAPS like investigation team who pinpoint the connection between the instructions, the dancing, and the graves they danced upon. Fortunately for the haunted, the ghost’s must be lazy, for the curse only lasts a month. However, fortunately for the viewer the poltergeists grow in strength as the timespan narrows, making for some visuals that drift between the scary and the goofy, but always in a fun, horror-coaster kind of way.
Oddly enough, the best acting comes way of the sexy Josie Maran. She sheds her model image more than once and proves worthy of future screaming affairs. It’s a delight to see Tchéky Karyo as the paranormal investigator, but past himself and his assistant, the rest of the cast phones it in. I’m not sure who decided Dominic Purcell was a good actor, but he pulls off his tool-ish lawyer part as well as any muscle head should be expected to.
Mike Mendez’s work with the actor’s aside, he can lay on the genre tracks when it is called for. Some of the segments, especially as the ghosts approach full strength, are wild. The design of the ghosts is original and sharp, resulting in a smile at their function and some wide eyes at their appearance. Easily the best aspect of the film and possibly the best ghost design in years.
Word of caution, the ending is more than a tad goofy. But if you’ve hung on till that point, it won’t be anything deal breaking.
While not exactly a colossal feat of strength, The Gravedancers is built with enough muscle to run the gauntlet and come out bruised, but not entirely beaten. Not nerve killing on the whole, but with some damned creepy looking ghosts. No moments of divine inspiration, but enough originality to keep things interesting. It’s a tug-of-war film that starts off predictable, but yanks the flag into its court midway, defining its own rules and becoming more than a standard ghostly knock off.
Certainly worth a watch down the line. And the more drinks in you and the more friends to share them with, the better it’ll be.