DIRECTOR: Adam Ahlbrandt
CAST: J.D. Brown, Natalie Jean, Adam Huss
PLOT: Paranormal investigators investigate some bad joojoo that (supposedly) went down in the 17th century.
Violent exorcism slash possession shenanigans culminate in a gory bacchanalia. Cut from the 17th Century to now and a batch of young paranormal investigators with questionable qualifications and sketchy personalities hoof it into the woods to investigate. Did something happen? If so, was it really the makings of a supernatural abattoir or something more mundane, if equally deadly? Early on it reminds me of Blair Witch 2 by dint of the scenario of overeager, pretentious jackasses up to tomfoolery in the guise of serious endeavor, out in the woods getting all séance-y and stuff. There’s even a Wiccan, like in BW2. With tons of ‘tude. Like in BW2. Not that this is ripping off that; I don’t even intend to imply it. Just noting a parallel. Director Ahlbrandt infuses the film with some visual stylishness and it is also benefited by technical competence and a slickness of production value. For low budget horror fare, it’s got gloss and a little class, even as it rubs idiots and horndogs in our faces. Lucky for us, we’ve come to expect idiot tropery in our genre films. It’s no gripe. Just observation. I’m betting Ahlbrand had fun with these nitwit characters. And there’s a spectrum of nitwittery, from normal but a tad doofy all the way to porn-brained rakishness and eye-roll-inducing new age chicanery. THE CEMETERY doesn’t waste time getting its young ‘uns in the woods, even if it does dally a bit once safely ensconced in trees and shadows. Of course, there is the obligatory campfire spook story, complete with flashbacks to the bloody 1600s. There is also the obligatory sex scene, and the attempts at sex (poor guy). The drug use. Hell, all the stuff I’d wanna do if I was stuck out in the woods for some damn fool reason like ghost-hunting. Ahlbrandt does a notable job of balancing schlock with serious; he gets the mix about right. This isn’t a comedy, but neither is it taking itself TOO seriously, even if it is a dark film. Horror, humor and hedonism are fairly well balanced in THE CEMETERY, which puts it a step ahead of some of its contemporaries, for sure. The setting is also nifty, with Ahlbrandt dropping his characters off not in just the woods, but in the creepy ass titular cemetery in the woods. The music is minimalist but atmospherically effective, downright creepy in places. The manifestation of evil is simply rendered, but it works. No fancy costume one-upmanship (what’s even better than a hockey mask?!), just grimly rendered villainy. The gore in THE CEMETERY is, by-and-large, expertly rendered, with some seriously sickening mutilation spicing things up. The pacing is a bit up and down but clearly there are a number of counterbalancing elements to make up for any lag (including intense sequences of total NOT lag). Some of the furious butchery later on in the film reminds me mucho of the original Evil Dead – yea, that’s totally a good thing. It’s totally an aside, but I like the death metal that punctuates the sound track. Nice touch, and it doesn’t dominate, just steps in from time to time to inject some extra intensity. And, let me say, the final reel is a splatty, messy blood bath, chunky and gory and laced with vivacity. A reel payoff …
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