GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD, directed by Charlie Comparetto, is a beautifully shot horror movie that takes place in the town of Mt. Moriah. The ghost of a young girl named Martha comes back to haunt the teens who witnessed her death while playing, “Ghost in the Graveyard.”
I’m always very interested when horror is presented in different and thought to provoke ways. Charlie Comparetto sets us up for what should be a fairly straight forward story set around a haunting children’s game, but what we get is a really interesting detour from where we assume the story is going.
The ensemble cast adds some wonderful texture to the story. Kelli Berglund, who plays Sally Sullivan, has a beautiful innocence about her performance. Returning to her small town after mysteriously being away for many years, she finds herself having to acclimate to life as a “normal” teenager. This ends up being a difficult task when half the student body believes you’ve been away because you went crazy. Her family welcomes her home, but there seems to be a looming mood over the reunion.
Jake Busey plays Charlie Sullivan, Sally’s father in the film. I’ve always loved the roles Jake Busey tackles. He seems to channel these really wild and intriguing characters. So, to see him as a loving father who would stop at nothing to protect his daughter, was really lovely. He also had this calm way about this role that was like water on a hot day. It was refreshing and welcomed.
Royce Johnson, Zoe Larsen, Maria Olsen, and Zebedee Row all portray their characters in a way that makes you feel like you know them intimately. We’ve all met the friendly Sheriff who takes care of his town and everyone in it. We’ve all crossed paths with that awful girl in high school, who plays at being nice, but it’s only a mask that hides her true ugly self. And we all know the big brother who is cool, protective and the kind of person you just want to hang out with.
In all these examples of normality, we find that darkness is just lurking off at the edges waiting for an opportunity to twist what we know, into what we fear.
The Score, from the Utah Film Orchestra, puts you right in the middle of the feeling you get while telling ghost stories under the sheets or around the campfire. That feeling of heightened intensity and eerie calm. All these elements together become a perfect storm that creates this world that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up a little. GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD doesn’t need jump scares to get you into the mood. It does that by giving us wonderful cemetery shots at night, glimpses of a ghost in passing, and the weight of good versus evil.
This film is the embodiment of a good ghost story. It builds slowly. It has you looking over your shoulder and leaves you wondering, “Did I just see…Must be my imagination.”
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