*Reviewed by Lauren Taylor*
Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro’s Beyond the Grave aka Porto dos Mortos is not a zombie movie. Hell, it’s not even really a horror movie. What it is is a movie full of references that only film buffs will truly get. And by film buffs, I don’t mean those people from almost 20 years ago that thought Tarantino was so cool that they began to watch and worship everything he liked – and then, in turn, became douchebags, thinking anyone who didn’t see those films, and understand references to said films, were complete losers. However, I’m afraid that’s where the cult following of this film may begin.
Let me take a step back. I understand and respect where Beyond the Grave is coming from. The idea that it creates this ambiance around it that reminds me of when I was 16 and working at the local video store – trying to appear ‘cool’ to the failed filmmakers that worked there – actually makes me smile. There are so many references – from Fulci’s The Beyond to Stephen King’s character Randall Flagg– that their obscurity to an everyday person makes it easy to argue they are just the filmmaker’s homage to the things he loves. They are not put there to be cool.
My first thought was the film was El Mariachi meets “The Dark Tower” series. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, The Officer is on the hunt for a possessed serial killer – The Dark Rider – a storyline that is hard to decipher if you aren’t paying close attention to every detail thrown at you. Along the way he meets a pair of teenage lovers, a pregnant lady, and more. There are some zombies mulling about, too.
From the opening sequence of The Officer gunning down some crooks in their hideout, the cinematography grabbed me. Silhouettes on walls framed out just perfectly were only the start; the film itself is incredibly well shot in general. Add in some choice music – edited again in a way that hits hard – and the film flows in such a manner that indeed makes it memorable. Perhaps having to read along at the same time as trying to capture every detail of the imagery killed part of the experience for me. I found myself confused as to exactly what was happening – especially with the main plot of The Dark Rider. Throughout the movie, the dialogue of a radio DJ cannot be ignored. In the end, it made complete sense what was heard at the beginning of the film.
Overlooking obscure references and other elements lost in translation, Beyond the Grave is an art house film that won’t exactly change your life, but will culture those who watch it.