Death is difficult to accept when it concerns a loved one. We are unable to process the thought of losing someone that means so much to us without repeatedly breaking down emotionally. Some say time heals all wounds; in theory, I guess that is possible but for the human mind and heart to let the feelings of that person go, is completely different. I would consider it a gift for someone not to experience the death of someone until later on in life. I speak from experience, as someone who has lost many loved ones, many of which left this world too soon. What if we were given an opportunity though to bring a loved one back from the dead?
The true question though is, at what cost would we delve in order to bring back those we lost? This is the premise to Hunter Adams’ film Dig Two Graves. It revolves around a young girl named Jacqueline, nicknamed Jake played by Samantha Isler (Captain Fantastic, Sean Saves the World). While out with her older brother Sean they decide to jump off a cliff into a lake. Jake chickens out last minute leaving Sean to jump alone and to never be seen again. Jake and her family are left to accept this horrible fate and that Sean’s body will never be discovered. Samantha Isler delivers a solid performance as a young girl forced to reassess her whole world. She is left with the question of “what really happened to my brother?” and at the same time has to console her family. With all this weighing on her it is easy to see the appeal in someone who says they can bring your brother back from the dead. It is in all these emotions and complexities that Isler shines. Only fifteen/sixteen at the time of shooting Isler shows great poise and ability to carry Jake through this emotional journey. It is through her innocence that the film pushes forward as we don’t know what Jake will do.
As fantastic as Isler is in her role I do not think the film would be the same if not for her grandfather Sherriff Waterhouse played by Ted Levine (The Silence of the Lambs, Monk). Levine is superior in the role of a rundown officer. His story is mainly told through flashbacks but even if they weren’t shown it is evident in Levine’s performance that his character is carrying a truckload of emotions and regret. He offers an odd balance to Jake’s story and the two together are the epitome of the sins of the father or in this case, grandfather. The chemistry between the two makes for the story all that more sentimental. It seems Jake’s grandfather is the only one that treats her as a real person opposed to just a young girl. Waterhouse tells his granddaughter “We carry the load, when we carry we get stronger.” This line solidifies the relationship between the two and with it also provides a powerful mixture of a beautiful sadness.
The viewer will be pulled in by Jake’s struggle of what to do to bring her dead brother back and how will the thirty year old mystery that haunts her grandfather unfold. It is the answers to these questions that will keep you enthralled but it is the performances of both Isler and Levine that will captivate you.
3 out of 5
Film Releases on Friday March 24th, 2017