Written & Directed by Brian Pulido
Meg Graves...Clare Grant
Abby Graves...Jillian Murray
Reverend Abraham...Tony Todd
Hottie rock and/or roll sisters Meg and Abby Graves hit the open road in search of adventure, wanting one last huzzah before real life and career opportunities separate them. They drive deep into the Arizona desert, heading to the World's Largest Thermometer, but wind up lost. Because this is, after all, a horror movie.
Stopping in the small town of Unity for lunch and directions, the girls discover that they are far from their intended destination. Don't worry, says the helpful waitress. Unity has a tourist attraction all its own that puts that stupid thermometer to shame: Skull City, a now-abandoned mining village that is said to be haunted.
A few miles (and fourteen dollars) later, and the Girly Graves quickly realize that if Skull City is haunted, it is probably haunted by the murdered yahoos who swing by for a visit. Run by a family of quirky killer locals, Skull City gives the term tourist trap a whole new meaning.
The expected antics ensue: girls witness a murder, girls run, girls fall, girls meet up with fellow survivor, fellow survivor survives no more, girls run some more, girls think they find help, girls are wrong, etc. etc. etc.
The problem with The Graves is that it is perfectly content to follow all of the pre-designated, unwritten rules of the genre, never once attempting to color outside the lines. It brings absolutely nothing new to the table, and could essentially have been constructed from scenes clipped from a hundred other movies. It's not a boring film, but because we've seen it all so many times before, it seems boring. One can enjoy reruns only so many times. When a horror flick relies so heavily on cameos from genre mainstays, it's not usually a good sign (although I could probably watch Bill Mosley and Tony Todd eat brunch, and at least be a little frightened.)
It struck me as pretty tacky and desperate for the film to start at (the real) Atomic Comics, where the girls looked into the camera and suggested that we read the Lady Death titles (created by writer-director Brian Pulido, natch!). If I wanted shameless product placement, I'd watch a Stephen Spielberg film. And then to have musicians Calabrese turn up--as themselves!?--in a pointless cameo? I think someone has been cribbing tactics from the last couple seasons of CSI. Only John Mayer was replaced with a spooky punk band, and nobody got raped at their concert. Pulido is semi-famous for his independent comic book work, and he obviously wanted to continue his legacy here with a horror film. But when you start using the worst of Hollywood's sensibilities in an indie setting, you can no longer lay claim to being daring and independent. You just become a poverty row parody of the very things you eschew.
Strictly mediocre, hipsters. And yet, somehow, this is still getting a sequel: later this year, we will Return to Grave City. I don't know. Maybe I outgrew these 'desperate-to-be-cool' flicks around the same time that I outgrew Hot Topic.
That's right. I'm old.
Deal with it, bitches.