If a mysterious group of men show up promising to bring back your dead brother, chances are things won’t end too well. Dig Two Graves offers subtle, backwoods gothic scares built around themes of painful loss and dangerous deals that have informed many horror films before it. The movie, which opens with an ominous 1940s-set vignette and then jumps ahead to the 1970s, is pleasingly old-fashioned in form. It’s not a remake, even if many of the devices (creepy men in old-timey garb, mysterious amulets, aging sheriffs) may be familiar, and it’s largely free of gratuitous gore. Jacqueline (Samantha Isler), a thirteen-year-old tomboy who goes by Jake, loses her brother in a drowning accident and spends the rest of the story trying to get him back and dealing with the consequences. Isler, with her serious blue eyes and bell-bottoms, at times recalls a young Jodie Foster and projects an intriguing aloofness. She’s a strong teenage horror movie star, but she’s not a scream queen. This is folktale-flavored horror, the scares coming from the wind in the trees rather than torrents of blood.
Director Hunter Adams relies on a desaturated color palette as a means of recalling the past; the sumptuous green trees and deceptively calm blue waters where the most tragic moment takes place make for the most visually engaging setting; the aesthetic is sometimes a bit too muted. Dig Two Graves isn’t the most original horror film, nor is it the scariest, but most of its short runtime offers passable suspense and an engaging protagonist.
Dig Two Graves
Written and directed by Hunter Adams
Opens March 24, Cinema Village
Available on demand