Finding inventive ways as an independent director and filmmaker can be challenging, but producing a fascinating character study is often the way to bypass most of these presented problems and deliver something horrifying. Terence Krey utilises two central characters in his psychological horror film, An Unquiet Grave, to deliver a subtle and creeping film that will resonate with the right audience.
After the death of his wife, one man becomes unable to process his grief and accept that his wife has sadly departed the world for good. But it’s not just the husband that struggles to come to terms with this, the wife’s twin sister is also having an incredibly difficult time accepting the tragic death. The pair make an agreement to perform a ritual that will change their situation forever, however, sacrifices always have to be made in order to gain something, which the two quickly come to realise and see the dire consequences of their actions play out intensely.
An Unquiet Grave is a slow burning horror which focuses on how grief can turn human nature unruly and dangerous when left to fester in solidarity. Even though the plot isn’t anything wholly original, the film tries to focus on how doing something drastic like a ritual to bring back the dead, can actually be even more damaging to the people involved than the original grief was. An aspect of the film that was really captivating was how once the wife was brought back from the dead, she had an existential crisis regarding her identity and how she was supposed to function in the world, which held very similar tones to Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6 when she battles to come to terms with having already passed through the afterlife.
Jacob A. Ware and Christine Nyland portray the two central characters, and with not much else happening around them, there is heavy pressure to perform accurately and perfectly. Even though their performances drive the film and keep the viewer invested, there are moments where the emotions of the characters do not penetrate enough, and it could easily leave the viewer feeling a little cold. There didn’t seem to be enough distinction between Nyland’s two portrayals of the twin sisters, other than the fact one smoked and the other didn’t, however that was probably due to the scripting and there not being enough key points to define the two personalities.
The atmosphere of the film has a creepy tone to it with a sense of dread, however it never feels as if it fully leans into this and instead tries to produce a more sorrowful vibe. There are certainly elements of An Unquiet Grave that work, but the film starts to drag out towards the end (and this is considering it’s already a short and sharp 72 minutes) and seems to lose it’s meaning about grief and the importance of the character study shown. The ending felt rushed and abrupt, losing all sense of bleakness which was seen throughout. An Unquiet Grave will capture the right audience, but for those who prefer something with a little more depth, you might find yourself wanting more by the end.
Verdict: 2.5 stars out of 5
An Unquiet Grave streamed as part of Nightstream Film Festival, which you can rent until 14th October 2020. Tickets are still available through Nightstream.