DIG TWO GRAVES (2017) is a supernatural tale of revenge focused on character, great cinematography, brooding atmosphere, and a strong Southern Gothic flavor. Though the resolution sort of felt like a brilliant poker game ending with everybody folding their cards, it’s a great film and I hope to see more like it.
Southern Illinois, 1947. Two policemen drive out into the country in the night and dump two bodies in a quarry pond. This done, the deputy aims his gun at the other man and tells him he isn’t sheriff anymore.
Flash forward 30 years to 1977. Sean dares younger sister Jake (Samantha Isler) to jump into the quarry pond, promising they’ll go together. After he dies in the pond, Jake is scarred and guilt-ridden. Then three strange men confront her with a deal. She can get her brother back if she trades some other boy’s life for his. And they have a boy in mind.
The men are from a gypsy clan that appears to worship snakes and know magic. They offer a gruesome bargain, but what they really want is revenge. For Jake is the granddaughter of the deputy (the awesome Ted Levine), who is now sheriff, and the boy is the son of the old sheriff–the two men who dumped the bodies in the quarry pond. Two men who themselves are nurturing a 30-year-old hate for each other.
The film is a bit of a slow burn, with plenty of moments establishing character, particularly between Jake and her grandfather. The backstory explaining current events is revealed in pieces that come together nicely. The three strange men are great–menacing while also seductive in their offer. The magic elements mesh with the story well enough that they elevate rather than distract. The strange characters, setting half in wilderness and half in a decaying town, and grotesque elements deliver a strong Southern Gothic feel.
Unfortunately, while the end delivers on the whole, it doesn’t pack much of a punch. Everything is wrapped up but I wasn’t left with a wow feeling. At the same time, I appreciated the filmmakers didn’t try to go Hollywood with the ending.
Overall, I liked DIG TWO GRAVES. I’ve never been a fan of torture porn or slasher movies. This is the kind of horror movie I like–characters I care about faced with difficult choices in a world where the grotesque is unexpected but possible.