Dig Two Graves, 2014.
Written and Directed by Hunter Adams.
Starring Ted Levine, Samantha Isler, Danny Goldring, Troy Ruptash, and Rachael Drummond.
DIG TWO GRAVES tells the story of a young girl’s obsession with the death of her brother, taking her on a nightmarish journey where she must a face a deadly proposition to bring him back.
Sometimes the road to release is a long and arduous journey for a film. For whatever reason it can take years from the point of completion to the moment where it’s released to its widest possible audience (be it theatrically, or on VOD). It may be to do with distribution struggles, production company breakdowns, a whole other multitude of reasons, or maybe sometimes it’s because the film is woeful. If that is the case then there is either a desperate scramble to re-cut, re-mould (or at worst case) re-shoot or said travesty is merely left to rot.
So we have Dig Two Graves. The title suggests something akin to a The Hills Have Eyes knock off but in actuality it’s more down the road of psychological thriller. It premièred in 2014 at a few festivals. You’d imagine that the film was shot in 2013 give or take. Now finally, the film is due for a wider release some three years after its festival run. The reasoning behind the long wait I couldn’t tell you, but what I can assure you, it has nothing to do with the quality of the piece.
Starring the perennially underrated Ted Levine, Dig Two Graves opens with a Sheriff (Danny Goldring) and his Deputy (Levine) disposing of two bodies in a lake. Deputy Waterhouse then demands the Sheriff hand his badge over. Something clearly amiss here. Cue titles and then we’re 30 or so years later. Waterhouse is now Sheriff. Tragedy strikes as his grandson dies after jumping into the aforementioned lake whilst exploring with his sister. Jake Mather (Samantha Isler) struggles to cope with the death of her brother. Distant in school, and unable to connect with anyone besides her grandfather (who is still haunted by the events 30 years previously, and reliant on alcohol). Jake encounters three strange Gypsies who live outside of town. With an oddly creepy assurance they offer her the chance to bring her brother back, but demand another life in return (the grandson of Proctor, the former Sheriff). As things transpire we unravel the connection between past and present, whilst Jake struggles not only with her feelings of loss, but her own moral quandary.
Dig Two Graves, from writer/Director Hunter Adams is a very pleasant surprise. From nowhere it delivers an intriguing, thoughtful and fantastically delivered film. Firstly it’s well written. Nicely weaved, opening up a world of dark spirituality which gives way to sobering reality. It explores the nature of both revenge and loss. Ultimately it’s mostly (or for me anyway) about coping with loss and dealing with any guilt associated with that. The film is also beautifully shot. I mean this looks fantastic. Eric Maddison’s photography artfully captures the grey, cold landscape of small town America, steeped in clear economic struggle (set in the 70’s, during a bleak financial period) and loaded with its own rich history. That contrasts well with the darker, more horror leaning scenes which mould light and shadow masterfully. The music by Brian Deming, Ryan Kattner and Joseph Plummer is atmospheric and evokes Mark Isham.
Samantha Isler is fantastic in the leading role, really holding the film very capably given her young age (At which this was shot). She is very reminiscent in look and indeed talent, of a young Jodie Foster. It’s a really strong performance. As mentioned earlier Ted Levine (who of course most famously co-starred with Foster in Silence of the Lambs) has never quite got the recognition he deserves. Maybe stuffing your junk behind your legs is a career killer, but he’s always reliable. He, as the broken down, haunted lawman unable to find redemption, is superb. It’s a shame not many people will ultimately see him in this film as it will undoubtedly fly under the radar. Elsewhere Proctor is also impressive, and also Troy Ruptash who plays the elder brother of the three gypsies.
With an intriguing story, interesting characters and an efficiently lithe run-time, Dig Two Graves is a thriller with some thought and a clear creative vision. Not only that, but the film feels like an entity of its own. There are enough dashes of originality to make this well worth seeking out.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★