It’s been a long time since a good old slasher film came shooting across my desk. In fact, if memory serves, Bloody Murder 2 was the last bastion of summer camp slaughter cinema that I have had the opportunity to appreciate. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found something comforting and inherently organic about the camp patrons in peril genre. The Graveyard seems to be some sort of hybrid/unqualified sequel to the Bloody Murder franchise, setting our characters once again at the doomed Camp Placid Pines. The name of the camp is never in question as the camera lingers far too long on a shot of the sign less than 10 minutes into the film. So, just incase you were wondering what all that was about, consider this.
The question is, since Lionsgate took control of the Artisan empire, was this a planned 3rd feature or just a wink and nod to the prior film? I mean lets face it, Bloody Murder was not exactly the pinnacle of genre filmmaking, in fact the performance in the second film by silver scream beauty Tiffany Shepis is arguable the best thing the series ever had going for it. But more on that later – lets take a look at The Graveyard from a fresh perspective.
If you’re looking for the big breakdown, here you go…Five years ago, a group of high school campers’ late night game of “run for your life” turned tragic when on of the group was accidentally impaled on a nasty piece of broken fencing. Now Bobby (Patrick Scott Lewis), the only camper to be charged in the death, has made parole and thanks to fellow friend Michelle (Lindsay Ballew), is on his way back to Camp Placid Pines to meet up with the rest of the gang and try to bring about some measure of closure to misfortune that befell them years before. But you and I know that it’s not gonna be too long before one-by-one, this motley assortment of bosom buds are beaten, slashed, stabbed, skewered and severed beyond repair by the ever present masked maniac. So, who’s the killer? Everyone is in doubt, as fingers fly faster than the felled corpses pile up.
A lot of naysayers will be lining up to disagree with me, but I declare that The Graveyard is everything that you could ask for in self-referential cinema. It knows where to fall in line with its storied predecessors and yet still manages an air of originality amongst all the standard trappings of a genre that has seen nothing less that 11 devotions to is patron saint Jason Voorhees in just 26 years. Its got boobies and bodies to spare yet still takes more than enough time to roughly flesh out its cast of walking, talking moppets of death.
Brilliant, hardly. In fact, it would take a real live genre virgin to not recognize the identity and motivations of the killer miles ahead of the half way mark. But the film scarcely lies on its innovative story telling, or even on gruesomely realistic effects work. It succeeds in being just light enough that given a passing interest in the plot, the film carries its 80+ minute running time smoothly to a satisfying conclusion. Nothing mind altering revelations here, no need to write home to mom, or call all of your friends, simply a guilty pleasure that hits like a sugar rush and leaves you feeling pretty damn fine for the better part of an hour.
Now, back to reality for a moment. Regardless of whether or not The Graveyard is a true sequel to Bloody Murder is totally irrelevant. In essence, in-name-only sequels are generally used to cash in on the success of the originals. I think that Lionsgate took the high road, by giving The Graveyard the credit it deserves and not linking it directly to a series of film that are uneven at best. A prime example of this misstep may still occur as not over a month ago I learned that Lionsgate is considering taking a wholly original film and rechristening it 2 S.I.C.K., an obvious attempt to create what they must perceive as the makings for a legacy on the basis of one of the worst films ever made. Whether or not that blasphemous vanity project makes its way to the retail shelves is still unknown at present, but at the very least Lionsgate appears to be giving the filmmakers behind The Graveyard a decent second chance, and I recommend that you give it one as well.