Beyond The Grave – Review

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Beyond The Grave (or Porto dos Mortos) is a Brazilian movie from writer and director Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro set in a post apocalyptic future full of zombies and a few demons. The story is focused on Rafael Tombini’s Officer who is battling the relentless Dark Rider, a demon of absolute evil who is difficult to kill on account of his ability to switch bodies every time the one he’s possessing gets killed.

Let’s get straight to it; there are a few good things about this movie – previously I’ve voiced my love of zombies so we’re on good ground – but unfortunately for every good point there are numerous issues. Chief amongst these issues is the vague and not very compelling plot; it’s nice and simple, basic good versus evil, but the what and the how are never really explored. Characters are introduced and then roughly tossed aside without any real depth to them, which is a shame. The whole movie comes across as somewhat hazy, and without anymore information it’s difficult to feel engaged in the narrative or the characters. It would have been nice to have explained a couple of points, particularly how the Officer seems as invulnerable as the Dark Rider, and who both of them are.

The zombies are fairly well executed, this is an understandably low budget movie and there’s something about zombies that lends itself to that look, but regrettably there are never enough zombies to be even remotely threatening. A plus is that they are the slow ambling variety of zombie, which en masse can produce a fairly terrifying spectacle, one unfortunately not employed here. The focus remains on the Officer and his nemesis the Dark Rider, perhaps in light of that we can forgive the lack of zombies. Though I’m inclined to never forgive a lack of zombies.

The cinematography works in Beyond The Grave’s favour, as does the largely run down industrial locations it was filmed in – even if they do start to seem repetitive and uninteresting. However the editing is a mess, frequently in order to convey confusion or distress the film resorts to a fairly irritating succession of jerky back and forth cuts that don’t really add anything to the tension, or make any sense. I can appreciate the ‘experimental’ approach but I don’t think it pays off.

There’s an element of Westerns in the feeling of some of the shots, and it’s blatantly referenced in some of the costumes and the final scene, and while this adds to the overall sense of good duelling bad it doesn’t do much for the pile of unfocused, unexplained, and occasionally dull scenes. I can’t even say that the action makes up for the lack of pace elsewhere as unfortunately what little exists exhibits the same slow meandering pace of the rest of the movie and doesn’t produce any excitement. If you’re a fan of low budget, dubious, horror flicks then you’ll probably enjoy Beyond The Grave regardless of, and perhaps even because of, it’s faults. For me it was a passable movie that lacked any real hook or intrigue to keep me entertained, or any of the trashy panache seen in niche zombie classics like Zombie Holocaust or any of the countless other equally good ‘bad’ movies.

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