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31 Days of Halloween

[Nightstream] ‘An Unquiet Grave’ review: When is unquiet too quiet?

Unfulfilled promise.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

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Making its world premiere at the Nightstream Film Festival, An Unquiet Grave has an intriguing premise. A year after Jaime’s (Jacob A. Ware) wife was killed in a car  accident, he asks for her sister Ava’s (Christine Nyland) help to bring her back from the dead. One night, the two travel to the location where she lost her life and perform a ritual that will return her. Unsurprisingly, things do not go as expected.

Stories about someone wanting to bring back a loved one are some of the most popular and well known. Audiences can relate to these characters and the pain and loss they feel. Whether it is bringing a pet back to life or a lost family member, these tales resonate with people watching. An Unquiet Grave seems to fit into this category. Jaime naturally is devastated by the loss of his wife. As is par for the course in these types of films, he will do anything to bring his wife back.

That is the first misstep in An Unquiet Grave. The story never gets across why he is willing to go through such extremes to bring his wife back to life. Obviously, he loves his wife deeply, but that goes without saying. The leap from grieving over the loss of a spouse to deciding to resurrect them is a large one.  There is never a demonstration of his love. He is just distraught and the audience is expected that is enough to perform a dark ritual. The movie never clues the audience in to Jaime’s line of thinking.

[Nightstream] 'An Unquiet Grave' review: When is unquiet too quiet?

The same can be said about Ava. She barely gets across that she even loved her sister as a sibling. There is little suspense leading up to the ritual and no pushback. From the first to the second scene, the rising action begins. Again, there is never a chance to see why the deceased woman is so important. This leads to a lack of tension in An Unquiet Grave.

A common technique used in movies is to tease an action and to not actually show it. The ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs is a great example. The idea is what the audience imagines is way more frightening and disgusting. This can work but An Unquiet Grave suffers from a series of exposition dumps. Viewers watching get to see very little. Instead, the characters tell them everything. By the end of the film, it becomes tiresome and frustrating.

An Unquiet Grave does have a lot of things going for it. Aside from the interesting premise, there is some great build. Even though the audience does not quite understand why Jaime has made his decision, there is an interest as to what will happen next. The ritual itself is appropriately creepy and the entire scene in general is intriguing (if difficult to see). There is also a terrifying shot near the end of the movie. Unfortunately, things do not come together as well as they should, leading to a muddled movie.

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