Well-executed and performed, the effective supernatural story “Ghost in the Graveyard” overcomes its limitations in stylish and visually arresting ways.
Writer and director Charlie Comparetto tells an old-fashioned ghost story in his well-made Ghost in the Graveyard, a horror and suspense film that overcomes its smaller budget and script limitations to impressive effect.
The tale takes place in a small town called Mt. Moriah where, years ago, a young girl named Martha was killed in an accident involving a playful childhood game. Now, as anticipated, Martha has returned to haunt and seek revenge upon those who witnessed her death long ago.
While this setup is fairly generic and speaks to some of the film’s predictability, Comparetto’s confident direction, strong performances from leads Kelli Berglund and Olivia Larsen, and Przemyslaw Reut’s fluid cinematography all contribute to a film that is both eerily unnerving and entertaining.
Berglund plays Sally Sullivan, a teenager who has returned to Mt. Moriah after receiving treatment for her own psychological problems. She reunites with her father, played by Jake Busey, and attempts to ingratiate herself back into the high school life, making new friends and discovering a love interest along the way (on a side note, some of the film’s most dramatic and suspenseful moments come during the classroom sequences, during which Sally is taught by a creepy nun and has frightening hallucinations).
In an interesting twist, Sally first experiences great conflict with bully Zoe (played by Larsen), but ultimately the two must join forces in order to confront the supernatural entity that has come to wreak havoc upon the town. Again, although the sequences that follow rarely offer any surprises, all of the performances are strong and realistic, with Busey playing the role of the protective father and Berglund having to tackle a number of jarring emotions as the film reaches its climax.
For a film with “graveyard” in its title, one would hope that the titular setting would be captured effectively by the filmmakers — and, indeed, this is one of the film’s strengths.
Many “paranormal” films that operate on a modest budget tend to employ settings that are inexpensive and mundane. Ghost in the Graveyard takes the opposite route, as the scenes take place in diverse settings that genuinely compliment the situations in which the characters find themselves.
In particular, the graveyard, with its looming shadows and windswept fog, captures the fear and panic that the characters feel at the moment of Martha’s accident. Later, due to Reut’s stellar camerawork, the graveyard continues to appear in the film in a number of effective ways.
Another plus is Comparetto’s script. While the dialogue is not necessarily riveting, it’s not obnoxious either. The characters speak and act like normal, everyday people, even during moments of conflict and crisis.
Charlie Comparetto’s GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD is not really a scary film, nor is the plot that original. However, a talented team put this project together, and the end result is a genuine triumph for all involved. The atmosphere throughout the picture is tense and suspenseful, while the characterization is consistent and intelligent. Ultimately, the film will be a satisfying watch for fans of ghost stories, urban legends, and spooky childhood games.