#201 -- The Gravedancers (2006)

Rating: 3.5 / 5
Director: Mike Mendez

The synopsis that Netflix gave me about this movie seemed pretty generic. It seemed like it could end up being just like any other ghost story out there. It said that three friends were haunted by the ghosts of people from graves they danced on. The thing that got me was that it said they were Irish. Anyone who knows me knows that when you mention the beautiful "I" word, I'm  sold. So I thought, "Ooh, Irish people!" But don't be fooled. These people were as American as you and I. I'm not sure why they wanted to trick us into thinking they were Irish. But that didn't stop me from enjoying this entry into the After Dark Horror Fest. I've always been interested in watching these movies, and I'm actually not sure if I've seen any of them already. I don't usually pay attention to that. The Gravedancers started out good; it played out really well throughout the majority of the movie, but it was the ending that lost it that .5 in my rating. It wasn't all that different from other ghost stories, but it was the characterization that I really enjoyed.

The title can tell you why things went sour for these three friends, but I'll give you a little bit more. Harris, Kiera and Sid's friend had recently passed away in a car accident. Harris and Kiera attended the funeral, but Sid didn't feel the need. He said that their friend wouldn't want them sitting around and crying over him; he'd want them to be celebrating his life, rather than mourning his death. So they decided to go back to the cemetery and have a little private wake for him. They had wine--a little too much of it--and Sid found a card on their friends tombstone. It was a little poem instructing them to live life for the day, and to "dance on their resting spot." Out came the boom-box, and they started dancing over three grave spots.

Not long afterwards, they started experiencing some scary things. The story centered mostly on Harris and his wife Allison. The weird things started with strange sounds in their house. They thought it was the pipes at first, but they figured out soon enough that there was much more to it than that. Then their piano started playing beautiful music by itself. When a mysterious and scary woman appeared in their house, they decided to do some searching. They visited Kiera, only to discover that she'd been badly hurt. She wouldn't let anyone touch her, because she said, "He doesn't like it when other people touch me." They discovered that all three of them were experiencing these phenomena. Sid called on some paranormal investigators to help them, and they dug up the secrets of the occupants of the three graves. They were all buried in the section of the cemetery that was saved for psychos.

One was a little boy named Dennis. He had set his house on fire, killing his entire family; it was supposedly accidental, but the locals didn't believe so. One was a piano player named Emma. She had an affair with some man, and when he broke it off she wasn't happy. She murdered the man and his wife with an axe, and was found bloodied and playing their piano. The last was a man named William. He was a judge and a very respected man throughout the community. After his death, people discovered that he'd been running a torture chamber in his basement.

The paranormal investigators found that the curse lasted only one month, and when the sun rose on the last day, the curse would be over. Or when they all died--whichever came first. The only way to end the curse before anyone lost their lives was to bury the bodies in new graves, since their old graves had been desecrated. But one of the investigators wasn't completely trustworthy, so when they thought everything was over, it was only just getting started.

I've come to really enjoy ghost stories. There's just something about the unknown and invisible that is terrifying. And when they show themselves, it truly is horrifying. The ghosts in The Gravedancers were definitely creepy as hell, and they were awesome. All of the film-making aspects of the movie were good, but the ending was disappointing for me. With about ten-fifteen minutes left, it became silly and Scooby Doo-ish, with computer animated flying ghost heads chasing them around the house; and giant ghostly hands pulling them underground. But I was glad it waited until it was almost over to get silly, because the rest of the movie was actually quite good. I was going to give it a four point rating, but once I got the urge to say, "Ruh-Roh!" that was pretty much over. Overall, I'd definitely recommend it. The ending is cheesy, but it doesn't ruin the entire movie. It's definitely worth a watch.

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