Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro
Rafael Tombini - Officer
Alvaro Rosa Costa - Franco
Ricardo Seffner - Shooter
Amanda Lerias - Nina
Luciana Verch - Adriene
Leandro Lefa - Ashley
Adriano Basegio - The Dark Rider
Tatiana Paganella - The Dark Rider I
Genre - Action/Horror/Western/Zombies
Running Time - 89 Minutes
During a zombie apocalypse, an unnamed Officer (Rafael Tombini) is fighting off random zombies, as well as a body-hopping entity known as The Dark Rider. The Dark Rider is hard to kill, with humankind's only chance for survival is by sending this demon entity back through some portal. Officer's mission is to get rid of The Dark Rider, even if it means using his own body as a vessel, killing himself in the process. As Officer hooks up with random strangers to keep them safe, as well as build a crew to confront The Dark Rider, this evil has been stalking Officer, having demonic plans for our hero.
I received a request by Facebook friend/producer Isidoro B. Guggiana to spread some info on a movie he worked on called BEYOND THE GRAVE, which can easily be found on Netflix Instant in the United States. I went one step further and offered to review it, so readers like yourselves could have a better sense of what the film is, in case you may be interested. He was gracious and allowed me to do my thing.
I wasn't sure what to expect with BEYOND THE GRAVE. The only horror film from Brazil I had seen prior to this one was AT MIDNIGHT, I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL from 1964. And with a title like BEYOND THE GRAVE, I was definitely expecting a zombie film of some sort. Instead, I got an arthouse horror film that's more focused on its characters and main narrative rather than any sort of zombie influence. And I definitely appreciated it, since the zombie deal is so played out at this point - although I'll still watch zombie films without hesitation. But BEYOND THE GRAVE offers its audience something different within the sub-genre, which may be a good or bad thing depending on who you are.
BEYOND THE GRAVE is a mish-mash of many things. It feels like a Spaghetti Western of sorts. It sort of borrows some elements from THE STAND, The Dark Tower, and demon possession films. It has a serial killer film vibe to it as well. And the film never feels like it's ripping off its inspirations, just using them to build something new. While the film takes place during a zombie apocalypse, and it does have zombies walking around and attacking people, the zombies are never the focus. It's mainly on Officer, who is on this dangerous mission to send a parasitic demon back to whence it came. People fight each other over this. People also die because they're never sure who this Dark Rider is at that particular moment in time. It's a really interesting narrative that sounds complicated, but never really is. You care about Officer and his motivations, making you care about the story. That's a great thing in an independent film, especially one as low budgeted as this one is.
I think the problems arise in terms of how the narrative is presented. For one, most of the film is extremely slow in terms of setting things up and providing action. The film starts out pretty strong with some great action involving guns and a Samurai sword. But once that's over, there's a slow burn as we meet other characters and learn about Officer's goal. It's a bit of a challenge at times to sit through, but it's worth it at the end if you manage to be a trooper and stick with BEYOND THE GRAVE. Also, the narrative can be a bit confusing as well. Certain situations happen, making you wonder if what we're watching are happening, or it's just some sort of dream. There's one point in the film where I started questioning the reality within the film. So if you're into linear narratives, this film may not be for you. And if you have ADD, then this film definitely isn't for you. Otherwise, the storytellling is pretty solid.
The direction by Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro is also pretty damn solid. The cinematography is really good, and the editing is great. The pacing is a struggle at times, but at least it's consistent. The action scenes are handled very well, with some pretty violent scenes that look convincing. The special effects were a mixed bag, especially the zombie make-up. But the film is very colorful and feels like an older film instead of one made in 2010.
The acting is also great as well. The real standout is Rafael Tombini, who carries the film as Officer. His voiceovers and monologues are great, and he comes across as a bad ass hero who won't give up on his mission. The supporting actors all bring something to the table, especially Alvaro Rosa Costa as Franco. No real complaints about the actors at all.
THE FINAL HOWL
BEYOND THE GRAVE isn't really a horror film about zombies. It's more like an ambitious action-western about a man trying to get rid of a parasitic demon he can't really kill. And while it's really slow pace and somewhat confusing narrative may turn a lot of audiences away from giving it a chance, I do think it's worth checking out if you want to watch something different and non-Hollywood [this was made in Brazil]. It's not for everyone, but I liked it more than I thought I would. If you want something foreign and artsy to sink your teeth into, then it may be worth spending 89 minutes with BEYOND THE GRAVE. Just know that patience is a virtue with this one.