Director: Steven R. Miller
Screenplay: Ryan W. Smith
Starring: Kaitlyn Leeb, Cassi Thomson, Dejan Loyola,
Running Time: 89mins
Reviewed by Guy Adams
Above and beyond onscreen theatrics, the things that really strike fear into a reviewer are words found on press releases. ‘Based on a true story’, ‘a SyFy original movie’ ‘from the director of I Spit on Your Grave and I Spit On Your Grave 2’. These words are words of dread, dark words, words that promise, if not eternal torment, then at least eighty-odd minutes of it.
So it’s possible that the fact I actually enjoyed GRAVE HALLOWEEN is partially through sheer relief. It takes an interesting location (the ‘true story’ element: Aokigahara, a Japanese forest northwest of Mount Fuji, popular as a location for suicides) dumps some American students in it and beats them up with vengeful spirits. Nothing ground-breaking then, but it’s handled competently enough and Miller gets atmospheric mileage out of the Vancouver (naturally) location masquerading as the ‘Death Forest’. It’s all luminous, moss-covered trunks and the damp mulch underfoot just about buries some of the more glaring cliches and irritations.
It’s an exercise in atmosphere and body count rather than detailed plot — nothing wrong with that — and there are just enough moody set-pieces to keep the viewer entertained.
Without wishing to damn with faint praise, GRAVE HALLOWEEN is nothing special but, in an increasingly dense forest of grotty cinematic deadwood, there is enough life in it to be worth your time.