How far would you go to get back someone you love? Would you lie, manipulate, and even take someone else’s life to do it? Shudder’s latest original film An Unquiet Grave explores these ideas, all while playing out almost like a one act play.
Sometimes, Dead is Better
Featuring only two actors, and a minimum amount of locations, An Unquiet Grave does a lot with just a little. Following the death of his wife, Jamie (Jacob A. Ware) asks his wife’s twin sister Ava (Christine Nyland) for help in performing some sort of ritual that will bring her back to life.
However, Jamie fails to mention a few details about the ritual or how it will play out. This all culminates in a brutal, unsettling outcome which explores grief, pain, loss, and desperation. You certainly don’t excuse Jamie for his actions, but it’s easy to understand why he’d get to that place.
In the thematically similar Pet Semetary, it’s equally easy to understand why Louis Creed makes the choices he does, even when they’re ill-advised and very much to his own detriment. Jamie in this film goes down a similar path. In addition, one might draw connections with the iconic “Monkey’s Paw” story.
There’s also a more sinister element in that Ava is not entirely aware of all the details of the ritual, and therefore hasn’t consented to some of the more important components. Jamie’s actions are justifiable to a point, but it does a great job of making you challenge your own sense of morality and desperation.
Simple, But Effective
Part of what makes An Unquiet Grave so effective is that it remains just within the fringes of reality. Sure it involves a supernatural ritual, but there’s no visual effects, or “zombie” makeup. Rather it’s done in a very grounded way that never breaks the suspension of disbelief.
Both Jacob A. Ware and Christine Nyland only have each other to rely on, and given the minimal locations and sets, this very easily could have been an equally compelling play. It may only be about 75 minutes long, but it gets its story and point across efficiently.
Overall, An Unquiet Grave makes for a quick watch, but it’s one that will really make you think.
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An Unquiet Grave is streaming exclusively on Shudder