‘The Graves’ – A Derivative Horror Misstep from Comic Creator Brian Pulido
I realized something a while back while I was writing a review for the film The Reeds. What I realized is that it’s easier to write a scathing review than it is to write a glowing review. Case in point, The Graves. The film is written and directed by Brian Pulido. If the name doesn’t sound familiar to you think Evil Ernie and Lady Death. Both are comic book characters and Pulido is their creator. So, now he has turned his attention to directing and the kindest thing I can say is that for a director he makes a good comic book creator. Don’t give up your day job, Brian.
Brian Pulido failed to translate his flair for illustrated horror into an engaging film. Littered with tired clichés and shoddy performances, this 2009 tale of sisters menaced by a demonic cult in Skull City, AZ proves Pulido’s skills are best suited to the comic page.
The Graves are Megan and Abby, two sisters on their last hurrah before Megan goes to New York City to work in marketing. The two are traveling through Arizona and decide to stop at a tourist attraction called the Skull City Mine. A tourist trap is more like it. The town just outside the mine worships this demon that haunts the mine shaft and have been killing travelers for years in order to feed the thing.
Megan and Abby Graves find their road trip going horribly awry in this backwater town with a history of ritual murders. While evading bloodthirsty townsfolk, they stumble on a mine where a cult sacrifices travelers to an ancient demon. Battling homicidal locals and sinister spirits, the sisters fight to escape with their lives.
What follows is a rote procession of genre tropes that hew too closely to superior horror films that came before. Though populated with genre vets like Tony Todd and Bill Moseley, the cardboard characters and stilted acting fail to generate investment in their survival. Will Megan and Abby survive? Or will the demon get their souls for all eternity?
The plotting provides no fresh angles on the ‘possessed town murders travelers’ premise, while attempts at humor mostly misfire. With its unique setting but derivative execution, ‘The Graves’ feels like a throwback to 80s B-movies but without the charm.
For his first directorial effort, Pulido failed to transfer his horror sensibilities to a new medium. ‘The Graves’ provides a cautionary example that superb illustrators don’t always make visionary filmmakers. The film feels better suited for a comic book adaptation than existing as a standalone work.
This movie has every stupid cliche’ ever found within the confines of a horror film. If you’ve ever watched a horror movie and yelled at the screen over some stupid thing some dumbass has done or is going to do then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Oh, and let’s talk about the acting of the two female leads, Clare Grant and Jillian Murray. Toward the end of the film the two show a small bit of talent. However, for the most part I found my self thinking “It sure is a good thing those two have pretty faces and nice bodies. At least they have something to fall back on.” Tony Todd and Bill Moseley are both good, but neither one looks like they’re enjoying themselves. The bottom line is that this film sucks worse than a Tommy Tammisimo commercial in The Sixth Sense.
Yeah, you know, it is so much easier to trash a bad film.