Ghost in the Graveyard

{Movie Review} Ghost in the Graveyard

Ghosts in the Graveyard out today from Dark Coast Entertainment is a well polished Halloween throwback, at least I think it is.

Courtesy of Dark Coast Entertainment

The story is relatively simple at least  I thought it was…. Mt. Moriah is a pretty traditional small town with a really thriving private school (no for real it seems really well attended, like its HUGE). The Sullivans are not new to town but oldest child Sally(Kelli Berglund) is coming back after spending time away because “she see’s dead people”.  As a result of these visions she is bullied by the school plastics who talk her into going out into the woods. Charlie (Jake Busey…yep you read that right), her father, offers up his well intentioned help.  The return story gets short shrift as the town ghost, Martha, comes back to kill the kids who witnessed her own death.  Little kids are creepy and this movie takes full advantage.

The first thing that will catch your attention is the big, loud, sweeping soundtrack that immediately makes the movie feel like it is more on par with a Disney Halloween special that a traditional horror movie.That same soundtrack unabashedly leans into a 1990’s style that was welcome even if I am not convinced it was intentional.The Disney special allusion isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the film really leans into title. Within the first few minutes we get kids on bikes which really makes it akin to an Amblin. production. It doesn’t hurt that the first few minutes of the film are really kidcentric.  While it features kids on bikes these kids die, pretty violently. The human villains have a pretty fantastic access to information and seem particularly diabolical. 

Martha, our phantasmagorical villain, is quite effective but is undercut by this weird plot development that indicates her accidental death is more a result of some sort of satanic ritual.  What follows is a fundamentally different movie than what I thought I was getting. There is a lot more talk of satanic mumbo jumbo including some apocryphal bible verses and other pseduo religious iconography. To me that is just way less interesting. I wanted the traditional ghost in the proverbial graveyard.  The scenes with creepy kid Martha are really effective and I just wish we had a bit more of that. Olivia Larsen playing an ever increasingly psychotic Zoe puts in a good shift as villain.  Zoe is earnest in her hatred of Sally (or so it seems).  She also a sex appeal that goes well with the role and can convey that within the PG-13 confines the film evokes. 

The film’s final act returns us to the frightening ghost of Martha. If the first act was fun and the second act was disappointing and uneven the final act can only be described as overly complex. There is a whole reveal that is not entirely dissimilar to Eli, the Netflix original, that too has a bizarre twist. If I am being honest I preferred Eli.  It was meaner and clearer and as a result a little more fun. Although Ghost’s reveal has more in common with the Cult of Thorn than with Eli. When this film started I did not expect Jake Busey to take on the role of guardian angel but by the end of the film I warmed to the idea.  Busey plays a relatively reserved version of the father savior and as a result the movie remains about our heroine and not about him.  Although he does utter the phrase “I am going to kill some witches”, and it sounds as campy as it reads. The ending is pretty predictable if not fun. It has a voice over at the end of the film I do not love. The final shot sets up a sequel that I just don’t think the film’s world building earned. Ghost was a fun one off and should probably stick with that.

Generally speaking this is not a bad movie, nor is it spectacular.  It is a serviceable post Halloween, old school satanic thriller. The effects are not exciting but they aren’t supposed to be. The focus stays on the story no matter how convoluted it may end up. The performances, especially by the ingenue and heel are excellent and I have no doubt this is not the last we will see of them.  Check out Ghost in the Graveyard on most major streaming platforms November 5th. 

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