Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grave Mistakes – review

Director: Chris LaMartina

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

This is a portmanteau movie which was clearly shot on a budget, however as I watched the opening – a scene in which a grave robber, Mr Burke (Ryan Thomas), prowled a graveyard and then unearthed a grave for the ring its occupant wore – I observed that the filming seemed a notch above many of the recent rash of zero-budget movies. The film quality had a chunkiness to it, rather than the usual thin quality of zero-budget photography.

Burke at work
Following the opening we went into the credits and I was struck by the fact that they seemed neat and the credit music worked really well. Filmmakers should note that this means a lot, it helps establish a mood and an impression on the viewer.

John Beck as the shop-owner
The film itself then sees Burke at a pawnbroker’s shop. The owner (John Beck) recognises the ring as one belonging to his mother. He hasn’t the money Burke seeks but offers him a trade for one of the items in his shop. The segments are the stories behind the items. Burke is more interested in what the owner keeps in his basement.

Aj Hyde as Patrick
The story we are interested in is called Sleep When You’re Undead. Patrick (Aj Hyde) and Carl (Mike Baldwin) are in a therapy centre. They share a room and have very different problems. Carl sleeps – a lot. He fears staying awake. On the other hand Patrick fears sleeping, he will do anything to avoid sleep, it seems. As the segment begins he is watching a horror film about vampires, trying to make Carl stay up and watch the show with him.

Their doctor, Dr Weinberg (Lee Doll), is unhappy with them both, neither appear to be trying to help themselves. The film also establishes that Carl is very Christian and Patrick not. Patrick has a deal with the cleaner, Terry (Myke Wells), who gets him coffee and, for the price of cleaning the more soiled toilets, provides him with stay awake pills. Patrick is prowling the corridors when he sees a new girl (Jess Owen, I think) being brought in. He hears that she sleeps through the day and claims sunlight gives her a rash. He also notices the bloody bandage on her neck (given the speed of turning this seems a little silly and some scars would have worked as well).

He is convinced she is a vampire but, by the time he gets Carl to help him, she has already attacked Dr Weinberg and Terry, turning them, and the vampires are multiplying at an exponential rate…

vampire Terry
I liked the premise, I really did. However the segment went nowhere with it. There was an ample opportunity for an interesting piece – perhaps even a full length feature. Patrick’s paranoia, and the fact that he might be hallucinating, could have opened this up as a twisted psycho-drama. The infection could have occurred at a slower rate, if it had been a longer piece, building a tension through the piece. The mismatch of atheist and Christian protagonists could have been played with and built upon. The TV show and reality could have intermingled fully in Patrick’s sleep deprived mind.

vampire Dr.
However, none of that happened. It just sat there, went through a 'by the book' vampire bit and ended. It wasn’t offensive but it did nothing, went nowhere and, scoring for the vampire section only, I have to give this a low score of 3 out of 10. However, if the filmmakers read this (and sometimes they do, you know) I’d like them to take the premise and expand on it. I'd like them to throw a tad more budget at it. I'd like them to look at the missed opportunities I highlighted above, and consider expanding what they had into something unusual and special.

The imdb page is here.


Frog God said...

Transelvania television (
a comedy series about a vampire and his tv station

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Many thanks for the heads up