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DVD Review

DVD cover

Grave Halloween


Starring: Kaitlyn Lebb, Cassi Thomson, Dejan Loyola and Graham Wardle
Distributor: Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
5 060192 815108
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 27 October 2014

Miko uses a college project to take two friends and an associate into the vast woodland at the base of Mount Fuji. The idea is to have her experiences filmed and recorded as she attempts to find the place where her mother committed suicide and, through a prayer-like ritual, to lay her spirit to rest. Miko has been experiencing half-seen dreams involving what happened to her mother ever since she was a small child. The woodland has a notorious reputation for suicides and, almost immediately, she begins to see the often aggressive spirits of some of those who have died in the area. The group is assailed by violent apparitions which separate them in an instant. Miko strives to find the location of a particular tree in a photo she holds, but her memories are catching up with her, and her late mother may not have been the innocent victim she was portrayed as...

Although set in a forest region at the base of Mount Fuji, this is an American film with American central characters (except for Miko, who is supposed to be half Japanese). There are a couple of things which annoy me about Grave Halloween. The most significant of which is the fact an American crew have clearly attempted to make an East Asian supernatural horror film. Let me say, this just doesn’t work. It’s been tried before, and inevitably fails before it gets started. Blackened eyes and a pale face is a naïve copy of those Japanese ghost stories which rose to popularity in the 1990s. The Ghost of Mae Nak had a Western director, but this worked because the whole story, mythos, location and characters were steeped in the relevant culture. His entire cast and crew were East Asian.

There is a plot strand which has been utilised many times in recent years, and that is having a character with suppressed memories. Through flashbacks, tantalising hints emerge which often prove to be something totally different to that which is hinted at by the story. Discovering the truth about her mother doesn’t really affect the structure of the movie that much. Like Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, the other main characters are used as canon-fodder (if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor). It is not explained how their guide becomes a malevolent spirit so quickly, and begs the question why didn’t Miko’s friends return after being dispatched. Being driven straight back into the woodland is a pointless exercise, as I can’t see this being turned into a franchise. Why can’t any horror films end these days with the key character escaping the peril, or alternatively failing in their enterprise? There is always a hint that all efforts have been in vain, and it will all happen again.

Okay, so I’ve used this film to make a point. It’s not an awful waste of time, by any means. I’ve seen much worse. I’ll agree that it’s difficult to be completely original in the genre of horror these days, but blatantly copying a theme is not going to get you noticed.


Ty Power

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