"Back then, we were just kids, playing a kid’s game, and somehow... It all went wrong."...
And so, opens Charlie Comparetto's Ghost in the Graveyard. A film which oddly enough, has nothing to do with a ghost in the graveyard outside of its opening scene. Instead, Comparetto's film questions what would happen if descendants of Mary (yes, that Mary, as Charlie states in the film) still existed and a coven of witches lurked about, hellbent on killing them.
Night falls, and we watch as a group of young girls launch into a happening game of "ghost in the graveyard," starting with a creepy song, and then dodging tombstones, graves, and each other in a hide-and-seek fashion.
Young girls. In a graveyard. In the dead of night. Where the hell are these kid's parents? Call me a sissy, but I'm pretty sure I would have said I heard my mom calling as soon as the first hint of nightfall struck.
As with any graveyard festivity, it's all fun and games until someone falls into an open grave. Unfortunately, this fate befalls Martha, terrifyingly played by Shiloh Verrico. Sally (Faye Giordano), Martha's best friend, reaches for Martha in despair, witnessing her best friend's last breath in a moment that sets the motif for the rest of the film.
I want to take a moment and state how spectacular all these young girls are in this film. Kylie Kiss, Faye Giordano, and Shiloh Verrico are outstanding, stealing the show and proving the W.C. Fields' rule to never work with children or animals, wrong. I loved them.
Fast forward ten to fifteen years, and we catch up with Dad (aka Charlie), played by a personal favorite, Jake Busey, welcoming Sally home after a nine-month reprieve that, aside from a later revealed note from the "Order of the Temple Mount," is never quite explained. Even more perplexing is the infant Lily, who has no explanation whatsoever. Like ever. Seriously, whose kid is this? Dad's? Her brother, Billy's (Zebedee Row)? Is she Sally's? True, Sally was absent for nine months, so maybe we're supposed to surmise Lily is hers, but that only makes sense if this film was set it the 50's or 60's (it isn't). Also, Sally has a terrible habit of leaving Lily unattended, something I have a hard time believing a new mom would ever do, so, who knows.
Now that Sally is home, it's time for her to go back to high school. Zoe (Olivia Larsen), whom we learn early on, is one-part bully, and full-part bitch, starts in with tormenting Sally. On top of that, Zoe has been seeing Reed (Joah Carmody), Sally's old flame, so you know it's just a matter of time before the claws come out and the hair starts to fly. Only, this isn't the route that Comparetto takes. Instead, he chooses a more subtle is she/isn't she friend vibe with Zoe. A brilliant choice on Comparetto's part as it keeps you guessing at Zoe's motives right up to the very end.
Soon after Sally's return to school, a young boy is found murdered. Tommy (Luke Patrick Duffy), in a, hold my beer moment, accepts a dare to ride through an alleged haunted graveyard, only to find himself on the receiving end of a rare, ghost in broad daylight moment, where Martha delivers him fatal pitching to the head.
Sally, having just come back to town, is the obvious suspect in Tommy's death. Although we viewers, in what I believe is a missed opportunity, know this is not the case, having just witnessed his beatdown by Martha's ghost. It would have been interesting had Comparetto chosen to rework this in a way that shed doubt on Sally's character.
Interestingly, for a film with "ghost" in the title, there's very little paranormal activity, and even the events that do occur, feel out of place given the rest of the film's vibe. Any horror here seems to be an afterthought.
On a different note, Assaf Rinde's score, albeit a bit distracting at times, feels like it belongs in a bigger film. His opening music is spot on, with its booming beats and tinkling keys setting the mood perfectly, while Przemyslaw Reut's cinematography adds a cohesion rarely found in low budget films--especially notable during Graveyard's opening sequences.
Tensions rise, secrets get revealed, and ulterior motives come to light, all leading to the simmering conclusion to Ghost in the Graveyard.
Ghost in the Graveyard is a slow burner that never quite catches on fire, but a lot of what it does it does well. If you're a fan of John Pogue's The Quiet Ones or Lucky McKee's The Woods, then be sure to give this one a watch. In the meantime, Omne Datum Optimum.
Ghost in the Graveyard is now haunting VOD from DarkCoast Films.
By Daniel Boucher