I love me a good horror film that combines haunted-house scare-tactics with paranormal encounters with CGI ghosties; but only when it's a genuinely good show in the end. I've fought my way through countless mediocre horror/thrillers which use cheesy, lame scare tactics such as cheap jumps and gore. So why, oh why, is "The Gravedancers" that one movie that impresses me? I mean, it shouldn't have; it wasn't even remotely scary, as far as the word goes. However, a movie is a movie; and when it does what it does fairly well, then it's only fair to give it some credit.
This will never go on to be a horror classic, and I do, by all means, respect that. But "The Gravedancers" is a lot of spooky fun, released in a good time where such things were so scarce, and they still are, unfortunately. It's not every day that you come across a simple horror film such as this that you can call "fun, fun, fun" without feeling stupid, but here's that movie, regardless of whether we wanted it or not.
This film is simplistic as hell in its horror and its story-telling, but this turns out to work for the film's benefit rather than against it. The film is the story of three people; all of whom get drunk one night and dance on some graves, which includes chanting a ghastly poem. They return home safely that night, now knowing of the horror that they have unleashed. Soon, they learn that they have indeed stirred the spirits of three ghosts: an axe-murderer, a youthful pyromaniac, and a rapist. The spirits are reckless, and they want to use their super-awesome ghostly powers to torture our heroes and heroines mentally and physically, as only a movie ghost can do.
The story isn't terribly well-told from start to finish, and it starts out by being fairly decent, if not mildly unsatisfactory. If "The Gravedancers" would have stayed that way, then I would have hated its guts and its quality. But then came the third act, which was just plain great, in my honest opinion.
The film, which is a true-blue horror movie, it not a scary one. It's meant to be, but I've seen nothing here that does more than simply go "boo!" But I don't mind a little jump scare once in a while, and to its credit, this movie doesn't overdo that aspect of scare tactics. Instead of being frightening and disturbing, these last few sequences are fun, well-built, and intense. I was able to enjoy this film, at its fullest, when it was like this. The film feels like a good horror movie, and to me it is. It's probably one of the better films to be released by After Dark Films, and I like what it does with what it's got. The cinematography isn't the prettiest, but being too pretty can take away from the good old "classic horror" feeling once in a while. This film benefits from atmosphere and entertainment. It's a movie that I wouldn't mind watching with some friends for some good-natured, cheesy fun. I'd even buy it, maybe. "The Gravedancers" is a recommendation for horror fans. Not for everyone and most certainly not for those who don't like horror, but this movie is well-built and well-directed. I admire it in a sneaky sort of way; perhaps something sneakier than this film can hope to accomplish. But it's not what's sneaky that surprises us here; it's the quality of the picture. No artistic strings are pulled; nothing impossible is attempted. This is good, straight-forward horror filmmaking, and I'm damn proud to say that it was worth the watch.