The Gravedancers tackles a completely normal hobby that many of us do, and turns it into a horrific nightmare of events: grave dancing. We've all done it at some point or another, whether we're drunk or just want to party. Who hasn't gone to the cemetery to dance on the grave sites of some of the city's most deranged convicts? I know I have!
This is the silly premise that The Gravedancers is based on, though the premise leads to a relatively entertaining and gory ghost story where three friends are terrorized by some nasty spirits. There isn't much of a plot to the story, other than that the three friends (led by "Prison Break's" Dominic Purcell) start seeing visions, and those visions soon lead to attacks. As a couple of paranormal investigators (Tchéky Karyo and Megahn Perry) tell them, they have awoken the spirits of three very deadly people, and that the attacks will end at sunrise of a certain day for some random reason - assuming they survive.
The movie succeeds in its B-grade glory, in that it offers a fair amount of bloodshed, some creepy (though cheesy) ghosts and more. Purcell is pretty good in the lead, and seems to be having fun doing a horror movie. There are a couple of good-looking women and a couple moderate frights.
At the same time, as horror movies go, there is nothing new to offer, and Gravedancers, being of the After Dark Horrorfest, certainly doesn't compare to other movies of a similar nature. Surprisingly, most of the Horrorfest films hold up pretty well and use their small budgets quite effectively, but Gravedancers may be too ambitious for its own good, as it certainly shows its limitations in a few places. The ghosts, while creepy, are a little goofy looking when they get close; director Mike Mendez apparently wanted things to look like they were from The Evil Dead, but the makeup work isn't very realistic.
The other really ineffective part of the movie is the performance of Perry, who plays a stupid paranormal detective. Pitted against veteran actor Karyo, she pales in comparison, and her character is just plain stupid. She does so many stupid things and says even dumber stuff it is almost cringe-inducing, though not everything can be blamed on her. I hate when horror movies have characters whose sole purpose is to explain the supernatural event that is taking place; her character was doomed from the beginning.
The Gravedancers has its moments and is certainly not a complete loss, but the movie is a bit cheesy at times and offers one or two dreadful performances that really make it hard to take the movie seriously. This is certainly not the best of the Horrorfest films, though fans of B-grade ghost stories should enjoy it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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