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[The Graves]
Plot:Present day. Arizona. Megan and Abby Graves are inseparable sisters that couldn't be less alike. Megan just graduated ASU with a marketing degree. She's a self-assured, naturally attractive rock chick with a black belt that she likes to use. Abby just barely graduated high school. She's a cute, Hot Topic Goth who's caustic and afraid of her own shadow. They share one thing: a life-long obsession with comics and pop culture. Simply put, they are beautiful geeks. In a few days, Megan will start a new job at in New York.

To send her off in style, the sisters go on a wild, pop culture bender that includes a trip to uncharted Arizona in search of a kitchy roadside attraction. Instead, Megan and Abby happen on Skull City Mine, a weather-beaten, abandoned mine town converted into a self-guided tour. But Skull City harbors terrible, vexing secrets. It appears to be haunted. Its caretakers are murderous.

Victims' souls are ripped from their bodies right before their eyes, and that's only the beginning. When Megan suffers a near mortal wound, Abby must save her sister, but to do so, she must unlock the mystery of Skull City alone. Can Abby defeat the threats of Skull City and rescue Megan or are they doomed like all the other tourists before them?

Cast:Tony Todd, Bill Moseley, Jillian Murray, Amanda Wyss, Clare Grant, Patti Tindall, Dean Matthew Ronalds, Cathy Rankin, Brian Ronalds, Randy Blythe, Bill Lippincott, Brian Pulido, Barbara Glover, Greg Seki, Rosalie Michaels, Shane Stevens, Jimmy Calabrese, Bobby Calabrese, Benjamin Glendenning, Davey Calabrese.

My Thoughts:Good supernatural creepfest.

Review:"The Graves" is the first ever feature-film effort from comic book creator Brian Pulido, and follows two inseparable sisters Megan and Abby Graves, who before Megan goes off to her big corporate job in New York, decide to go on a roadtrip outside of their hometown of Phoenix to some of Arizona's less-traveled rural parts, to see some good roadside attraction stuff.

That's when they are suggested to visit the Skull City Mine, an abandoned mining town that's rumored to be haunted. Of course at the start of the film, there's a really gory sequence of events which tell us blatantly that while the town may not be haunted, someone there certainly doesn't like visitors, that is...unless they're killing them. So at this point, Megan and Abby are pretty much headed straight for a trap, which is typical of movies where young kids visit rural areas, only to encounter the nutty psychotic locals.

But this film steps outside the box slightly by making Megan and Abby very likeable and well-developed characters, and also making their origins close-by, as they're Phoenix natives. As opposed to New York or L.A. natives. The film boasts some pretty decent talent on the casting side of things as well, which helps the movie along tremendously. But it never really forgets any of it's roots. The most important thing a film should do. Especially when it's a blending of genres. "The Graves" blends slasher movie stylings with supernatural horror, and manages to deliver on both.

While we have a band of psychotic slashers, who pursue Megan and Abby throughout the creepy ghost town of Skull City, we also get a phantom-esque demon which devours the souls of anyone who perishes within the Skull City limits, and doesn't care if they're good or bad. This gives the movie a lot of different avenues and roads to go down, and also a lot of different things to play with along the way. But the picture is really carried by Jillian Murray and Clare Grant as Abby and Megan Graves.

They're characters who are both easy to root for, and don't really have an obnoxious or intolerable bone in their bodies. So this makes it very easy for the viewer to cheer for their survival, and feel bad for their suffering during those moments when they're in the grasp of the towns collection of killers, religious fanatics, and other psycho's. I always say, if a film can give me characters that I can care about and pull for, then it'll score major points with me. And this film does that.

Although it does get a bit overtly cliche with it's villains, for example...Bill Moselely as Pig Man, who arrives under the guise of assisting Megan and Abby, but any good horror film aficionado knows better...at times...otherwise, the movie manages to deliver on it's strongest elements such as blood, gore, demented bad guys (and gals), some really eerie and creepy demon stuff, and some great chase sequences. I also must give credit to Pulido in the directing department, as he films the movie in a very edgy way, and also made the night-time scenes viewable.

Something most indie horror films cannot pull off, and in most cases fail miserably at. The proper lighting during the night time sequences. But above all else, Pulido manages to capture the essence and overall atmosphere of the Skull City Mine set piece. Fully bringing it's desolation, hopelessness, emptiness, and ghost town-appeal to life. Which really gives the movies first hour or so a very realistic, yet at the same time...sinister and ominous tone.

The final act of the film gets a bit choppy, but Tony Todd, who plays a reverend in the picture, manages to deliver just enough punch to cover up some of act 3's flaws. Todd even gets some pretty cool dialogue and scenes to close out the film as well. And I would say that his Reverend character in "The Graves" is probably the best character I've seen him play since he played The Candyman way back in the 90's. "The Graves" is a horror film worth seeing because it brings something new to the table, and has two female leads who really carry it all the way to the finish line without incident.

Positives:Clare Grant and Jillian Murray give great performances as Megan and Abby, Tony Todd gives a great performance as well. Bill Moseley and Shane Stevens as Jonah Lee Atwood was terrifice also. High levels of blood, and gore, and the supernatural horror elements were very strong.

Negatives:Some of the villains pretending to be good guys, only later to be revealed as villains, was a bit too cliche. I say drop the act when you know no ones gonna buy it.

Overall:Three and a half out of four stars.





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