Cinematic Releases: Dig Two Graves - Reviewed

Now in select theaters and available on VOD is the backwoods rural period revenge thriller Dig Two Graves, written and directed by Hunter Adams. The title is meant to serve as a poignant reminder to the audience that there is always a cost when seeking out revenge in a film and this one is no different, delivering a dark and violent tale that is juxtaposed with beautiful cinematography and a pair of excellent performances from Ted Levine and Samantha Isler. The story involves 13-year-old Jake Mather (Isler), a deal that she is offered by a trio of moonshiners in exchange for bringing her brother back from the dead, and how it is all connected to a series of events involving her grandfather, Sheriff Mather (Levine), thirty years ago.

It is a complex story that takes place in two different time periods, 1947 and 1977. Most of the events occur in 1977, with flashbacks slowly unfolding to reveal how everything is connected. The primary themes touched upon are revenge, loss, and regret. The movie also paints a picture of the rural Appalachian lifestyle between the 1940’s and 1970’s, along with some of the more unusual groups and supernatural activities that may have been taking place. Some viewers may question the location as being applicable for this kind of event. It should be noted that the film occurs in the Southern Illinois area near Paducah, Kentucky, much further away from a major city in Illinois like Chicago. So the setting would be typical for small rural towns, farming communities, and various religions and ethnicities that may be in the area.

Adams does a superb job of delivering rural life during the 1970’s, along with getting the most out of his actors. He also brings a very gothic and creepy thriller that makes you think of 1770’s colonialism at times as opposed to the 1970’s. The combination of his directing and the cinematography from Eric Maddison is simply outstanding, providing the audience with stunning yet dreary imagery to match up with the situations and decisions the characters are faced with. From the whites and grays in cloudy wintery skies to the earth tones cast alongside thick black shadows, there are many memorable visual moments in this. It is no more apparent than in several of the motion pictures key scenes.

Ted Levine is most likely best known for playing the serial killer Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, along with his distinctive bass voice. Despite that, this has to be one of his finest performances. It is a character with many levels and he conveys a nuanced portrayal of a man who has been troubled with the events that transpired some thirty years ago. While Levine is a treat, Isler steals the show as Jake Mather. Her struggles with grief, death, and decision making throughout the movie invests us in the character and makes us anxious to see what will ultimately unfold.

It may not be what is considered a conventional revenge flick; Dig Two Graves is still exceptional and deserves your time. With a complex plot, spectacular cinematography, and several exceptional performances this is a must see.

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