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An Unquiet Grave Review

June 22, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
An Unquiet Grave
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An Unquiet Grave Review  

Directed by: Terence Krey
Written by: Terence Krey, Christine Nyland

Jacob A. Ware – Jamie
Christine Nyland – Ava

Running Time: 72 minutes
Not Rated

An Unquiet Grave arrives on Shudder on June 24th.

It its best, horror can be one of the most cathartic genres of storytelling. There’s something to be said for the way that horror makes us confront things that we otherwise wouldn’t, sometimes wrapping it in a metaphor and sometimes laid right out there for all to see. Our deepest fears and darkest natures are given a spotlight when terror is on the menu. And while there’s a lot to love in a horror flick that just seeks to be a bloody good time, when it can be something more it can often be even better.

An Unquiet Grave, which premieres on Shudder this week, seeks to do just that. Terence Krey and Christine Nyland’s latest collaboration tackles the notion of grief, and what happens when you don’t let yourself heal from loss and pain. It’s a wide-reaching idea that everyone has to struggle with at one point or another, one brought down into an intimate story between just two people to pretty great effect.

The film stars Jacob A. Ware and Nyland as Jamie and Ava, who are grappling with the loss of someone close to the both of them. Ava’s twin sister and Jamie’s wife Julia died in a car accident, and a year later they come together at her grave. Jamie has a plan to bring Julia back from the dead, and Ava – while apparently reluctant at first – has come around to the idea.

Together they return to the site of the accident to perform a ritual that will restore Julia to life. However, as the night progresses Ava has cause to be concerned. Jamie isn’t acting quite normal, and Ava will soon learn that there’s something darker at play than she realized.

Nyland, Krey, and Ware have previous experience working together on supernatural storytelling, with Nyland and Ware starring in Krey’s web series Graves. Their familiarity with genre and each other pays off in a big way here. Nyland and Ware are the only two actors in the film and their ability to play off each other makes us feel the connection between these two people, broken and united by loss. That’s essential to our own connection to them, and it allows the film to have a bit of dramatic weight to the proceedings.

This is a film about people making bad decisions influenced by their inability to process their grief, and that leads to a couple of interesting developments here. Krey keeps the film more focused on the emotions and a bit less on gore or jump scares, which may be a disappointment to horror fans hoping for nastiness. There are a couple scenes that hit the mark in that way, but otherwise it leans into the tragic side of horror.

That may lead to it being a bit too slow of a burn for some fans, but the payoff is worth it in the performances. Ware, looking a bit like a lean Ty Burrell (of Phil Dunphy fame), makes his character’s bad decisions ones we can empathize with, if not necessarily forgive. He and Nyland both make us feel the emotional pain their characters are wracked with, and Nyland does quite well with a role that is much more than it might initially seem. It isn’t easy to pull off a film with just two actors, but they do it quite well.

Krey clearly has a limited budget to work with in making this film. If nothing else, the cast of two and the very limited number of locations makes that clear. But it’s a film that never feels cheap or limited by its price tag. Krey captures a creepy element that unnerves even if it doesn’t gross anyone out.

He also knows not to overstay his welcome, avoiding the trap of padding out his running time for the sake of an 80-plus minute affair. It’s a canny move, allowing the film’s quietly mournful tone to overtake its audience and leave us with a disquieted feeling once all the cards have fallen where they may. He and Nyland could have fallen prey to any number of temptations to overexplain, wrap things up more neatly, or insert tropes to punch things up. But what we have works because it doesn’t have any of that. Instead we have this quiet, intimate little meditation on mourning that will stay with you longer because it understands that, at least in this case, less is more.

The final score: review Good
The 411
Terrence Krey's An Unquiet Grave may not be a movie for those who need a lot of viscera and jump scares in their horror, but it's a strong film nonetheless. Key and Christine Nyland's script leans into a simple concept to explore its themes, and relies on fantastic performances by Jacob A. Ware and Nyland to bring those themes to life. With its lean running time and a few clever twists and turns, this is a horror flick that is well worth checking out if you're in the mood for something more somber and meditative in your horror diet.