Dig Two Graves (2017) Movie Review

We’ve all suffered losses in our lives: Pets, grandparents, parents, siblings. Losing a loved one can be the hardest thing to have to go through in a person’s entire life. How far would you go to bring back someone you love? Would you give up your own soul to get them back? In Hunter Adam’s Middle American Gothic tale Dig Two Graves, a young girl must decide just what parts of herself she’s willing to lose to get back her beloved brother.

The official synopsis:

A girl’s obsession with her brother’s disappearance leads her on a nightmarish journey through a small town’s Gothic landscape where she is faced with a deadly proposition. How far will she go to save the people she loves?

Set in 1977, Dig Two Graves was written, directed and produced by Adams (Blue Palms TV series) and stars Silence of the Lamb‘s Ted Levine, Samantha Isler (Captain Fantastic 2016) and Danny Goldring (The Dark Knight 2008). Also producing the film are The Dark Knight’s Claire Connelly and P.J. Fishwick. PopHorror favorite Larry Fessenden (We Are Still Here 2015) executively produced. The haunting musical score was composed by Brian Deming (Rio 2011), Ryan Kattner (The Exorcist TV series) and Joseph Plummer (Ghost Bird 2009).

Although the film was shot over three years ago, it is only now being released in theaters. Don’t let that dissuade you from thinking Dig Two Graves isn’t worth your time. As a matter of fact, the film spent quite awhile touring the festival circuits, winning awards such as Best Feature Film, Best Actor for Ted Levine and Best Director for Hunter Adams at the 2015 Beaufort International Film Festival and the Director’s Choice Independent Spirit Award at the Sedona International Film Festival in 2015.

What Worked

The acting in Dig Two Graves is phenomenal. Samantha Isler perfectly portrayed the heartbroken Jake, a girl who is both naive and wise beyond her years. She’s faced with a choice that no child – never mind an adult – should ever have to make. You can see the struggle between her heart and her soul as she floats between the static comfort of family with her wise, understanding grandfather, Sheriff Waterhouse (Levine), and relief from the emotional pain of her loss with the creepy, itinerant mountain men. Jake grows up right in front of your eyes. As the credits roll, you can’t help but wonder what else life had in store for this strong, determined young girl.

Although known in the horror community as Silence of the Lamb‘s Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb, Ted Levine is much more than that. Although he’s a bit older now, Levine’s deep, grumbling voice is instantly recognizable. Unable to forgive himself for the sin of omission concerning the former Sheriff Proctor (Goldring) and a gypsy family from 30 years previous, he tries his best to keep Jake safe and secure while also struggling with his own demons. As his story unfolds in flashbacks, you can see how the past decisions of this gruff, resigned man are influencing his current life and there seems to be nothing he can do about it.

I love the washed out, bleak atmosphere created in Dig Two Graves. Much like 2010’s Winter’s Bone, this movie takes the viewer deep into the heart of both the characters and the atmosphere. There’s no sugar coating here. This coming-of-age film lays it all on the line, wounds and scars visible for all the world to see. The multiple storylines and flashbacks made for a tight plot that dovetailed beautifully in the end. I also thought it was very clever to use the history of the Appalachian gypsy with their voodoo-like practices as a way to tie the whole thing together.

What Didn’t Work

There honestly wasn’t much that didn’t work in Dig Two Graves. The few things I’ll mention are more nitpicks than complaints. I wish there had been more backstory on Jake and her brother. The two minute scene in the beginning doesn’t do much to explain why the young girl was so obsessed with getting him back. I wasn’t clear on who the mountain men were supposed to be. Were they fur trappers? Moon shiners? Hobos? Maybe I missed something, but it seemed like they were just three men that showed up out of nowhere doing nothing but harassing Jake. The story is a slow burn, so if that’s not your cup of tea, then you might not like this one.

Dig Two Graves debuts on VOD on March 24th, so be sure to check it out.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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