24th Dec2014

‘Grave Halloween’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kaitlyn Leeb, Cassi Thomson, Graham Wardle, Dejan Loyola, Jeffrey Ballard, Hiro Kanagawa, Jesse Wheeler, Tom Stevens, Kevan Ohtsji, Hyuma Frankowski | Written by Ryan W. Smith, Sheldon Wilson | Directed by Steven R. Monroe


Apparently (at least according to the blurb on the front cover) based on a true story, Grave Halloween is the latest movie from director Steven R. Monroe – yes he of I Spit on Your Grave 1 & 2 fame – who returns to making TV movies for the Syfy channel (I really liked Mongolian Death Worm FYI) with this, a J-horror inspired slice of mediocrity that tries to mix American and Japanese filmic ideals, never quite meshing the two together well enough to be a complete success.

Deep in stark woodland at the base of Mount Fuji, restless whispers echo as the light fades on a mid-winter afternoon. Here, amongst a maze of roots, a lone figure takes her life, binding her body to the branches and her spirit to the undergrowth. Years later, Miko and her college friends head into Suicide Forest. Miko yearns to abide a Halloween ritual steeped in demonic tradition which will release her mother’s trapped soul. Filming their journey amongst the shadows, strange things start to happen; angry murmurs and sightings of ghosts warn there are those who do not want them there. Suddenly, the path to life is barricaded by the dead who have nothing to lose…

If you’ve ever watched a Syfy channel movie then you really know what you’re getting into with Grave Halloween – sadly not even Monroe, who normally injects something interesting into even the cheesiest of B-movies he directs, can’t save this monotonous story, which in essence is 90 minutes of watching annoying American teens wander round a forest being “spooked.” OK, so maybe there are a number of cool death scenes (replete with some great gore) and the final few moments, as everything comes to a head, ups the excitement ante – but it’s all a case of too little, too late sadly.

Jump scares and J-horror inspired ghosts may have worked a decade ago when the genre first exploded onto the American film-making audience, but now? Not so much. And not to be too picky, but if you’re going to have a forest filled with warning signs, maybe you should have subtitles to explain exactly what they’re warning against? That way maybe the audience will be able to follow just what’s going on!

Grave Halloween is out now on DVD from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.


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