Just like the last Ahlbrandt film that I picked up, Cross Bearer, I picked up his latest release, The Cemetery, with very little knowledge of what the film was going in. I had, at least, seen a trailer (something I hadn’t even done with Cross), but short of knowing that who made it and who was in it, it was going to be a ‘blind date’ of a film.
To say that Ahlbrandt loves the gore is an understatement. Just like sister-film Cross Bearer, The Cemetery comes at you hard and furious with plenty of over-the-top kills and mutilations – hell, maybe even more so than Cross. The premise of the film – several people gather together in a certain area for a certain reason, before the shit hits the fan – is the basis of many film in the genre, but Ahlbrandt gives a decent reason, albeit it is an odd mix of characters that seem to be out there in the woods.
The film follows the story of several reality TV filmmakers, who are in the woods at an ancient burial ground. A Ghost Hunters take, entitled Ghost Seekers, the group are filming an episode for the series, before Hell, quite literally, breaks loose, and begins ‘infecting’ the members.
The Cemetery reunites much of the case of Cross Bearer, including underground scream queen Natalie Jean, who plays both a girl tired of her asshole boyfriend, and a vicious, bloodthirsty, demon possessed hellhound, the latter of which actually really lets her shine. Obviously she’d rather play a demon than a slut. I can’t say I blame her, and she looks like she’s having a ton of fun attacking the hell out of the guys.
Also returning are JD Brown, who plays Bill, the ‘leader’ of the group, if there was one, who tries as much as he can to just get people to calm down and be rational – well, at least until he’s cutting the feet off of Jean’s character Andrea. (Side note: I’ve seen thousands of horror movies, and when the protagonist knocks the killer down, they always just keep running; they never think to hack at them a few extra times, shoot them, or what have you. This is the first movie I’ve seen where they say ‘hey, we know the killer isn’t dead, so let’s cut that bitch’s feet off so she can’t chase us! Props to that idea, Adam.)
Coming back for another round with Ahlbrandt after Cross Bearer is Tim Cronin, who I can honestly say I hated with the passion of a thousand suns in this movie. Not him, mind you – the character itself. Although few of the film’s group of rag-tag filmmakers are likable, if there is one character that you’re ready to have die almost immediately, it’s Cronin’s Mike, who may be my least favorite character in a movie all year. But for a horror movie, that’s a great thing. It just gives way for cheering when he finally dies!
The deaths in the film are fun. They don’t have to be super creative when it’s a machete and an axe involved, but there are a few key points that I was really into, including the aforementioned feet hacking and a self-decapitation scene that is just perfect. The intercut flashback scenes, which are used throughout to explain the religious based back story, also have their fair share of gruesome deaths. The blood flows in buckets, and in those scene specifically, mixed with the great color work done on the film, it really gives the dire, classic feeling a boost. Hard to describe, but in full HD via a magnificent blu-ray transfer from Massacre Video, the scenes just work, and they look beautiful. In fact, the entire film, which thankfully does not resort to full-length scenes of a first-person, found footage style (despite being a movie about a production team who are constantly talking about or carrying cameras), looks absolutely perfect in this transfer.
Obviously shot in HD using handheld cameras, it’s clear that Ahlbrandt knows exactly what he’s looking for in each shot, as I never noticed a single frame that was too dark or too overexposed. For a movie filmed quite a bit at night in the middle of the woods, it puts Blair Witch right into its place.
Overall, this was another great outing from Ahlbrandt and Adversary Films, and as I am an ever-growing fan of his work, I will eagerly await his next release.