A Midwestern Gothic tale with a side of the supernatural.

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Dig Two Graves is a gothic thriller that follows teenage Jake (Samantha Isler) who, after a tragic accident, loses her brother. In her desperation, Jake turns to dark forces that offer her a deal to bring her brother back.  The wicked Wyeth (Troy Ruptash) convinces Jake that if she kills another teen he will return her brother. It is up to Jake’s grandfather, Sherriff Waterhouse (Ted Levine) to figure out what is happening before more tragedy occurs.

The film sets a good atmosphere, and Levine, Ruptash, and Isler all shine in their roles. The scenes involving the three of them are interesting and often tense. The decrepit setting of nature and buildings adds to the idea that there is something inherently decayed in the world. The pacing of the film works well, even if the plot moves in more or less predictable ways. After reading the synopsis, you can probably accurately guess how the film will end.

Despite strong main characters, a lot of the side characters leave a bit to be desired. Wyeth’s two henchmen carry neither his charm nor his presence. Each appears to be more a stereotype of a Midwestern hillbilly than anyone who might possess magical powers. Why they chose to add two cartoon villains is beyond me, but it hurts the film a great deal.

Perhaps the largest issue with the movie is that is feels the need to lay mystery on mystery. Sheriff Waterhouse’s past is not righteous, and he suffers numerous flashbacks that finally bring the story full circle, but the closing of the circle wasn’t really needed. Adding in a generational thread to the film complicated the somber nature of the tale. If they removed this portion of the movie it would be a stronger narrative that focuses on the idea of dealing with the devil. With the thread the whole arc becomes manipulative. It doesn’t necessarily make it a bad movie, but it lessens what it could have been.

We end up with a well shot, but uneven experience. When the narrative is allowed to breath on its own (bereft of forced twists or mystery) it creates a somber and nice telling of life and loss. Overall, this is an interesting film and displays an underdone genre. 6.5/10

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