Nothing is dead so long as someone remembers it. In 1947, two men drag two bodies to the ledge above the water and throw them in. Words are exchanged, guns are drawn; the senior capitulates and throws his badge in the water. He is no longer fit to be sheriff. But while the memory of man can hold a grudge a long time, the memory of the land and the water is longer still.
Three decades later, a carefree sunny day of bicycle rides for Jacqueline “Jake” Mathers and her elder brother Sean ends in tragedy at the same spot on the ledge above the quarry. He dares her to jump, but she freezes. Instead he jumps alone into the water but never surfaces; running for help Jake falls, blood on the rocks, and the lake keeps its secrets.
Time passes, the winter sky fades to red and fills with fireworks, but Jake remains distraught, blaming herself for what happened. When her mother announces that she is pregnant Jake is furious, seeing this as a betrayal of Sean, her parents trying to replace what can never be replaced.
Lost in nature, his body never found, it is in nature that Jake looks to find Sean, in water, in the trees, but what finds her is Wyeth, Jon and Dee, the three brothers who live in the shack out on the Proctor land, and they offer Jake a deal which will tempt her despite the hefty price attached, despite her knowing it would be wrong to accept.
Directed by Hunter Adams from a script co-written with Jeremy Phillips and filmed in the unspoiled area of Southern Illinois known as Little Egypt, Dig Two Graves is a tale spun of rural melancholy and barely dared dreams drowned at birth, the past unfolding in flashbacks of distinctly un-American activities.
Like Winter’s Bone seen through the twilight haze of the supernatural, the lives of those who went before cast long shadows which flicker in the firelight; Jake is close with her grandfather, Sheriff Waterhouse (Banshee Chapter‘s Ted Levine), silent witness to the misdeeds of a generation before whose repercussions now play out in gypsy curses, blood rituals and clear moonshine.
Old beyond her years, Jake is played by Captain Fantastic‘s impressively talented Samantha Isler, carrying the film on her weary teenage shoulders; having made a deal with a bearded man of the woods, there will be consequences, and in top hat and whiskers Leaving Metropolis‘ Troy Ruptash is Wyeth, a man whose softly spoken promises are betrayed by the fierceness of his unforgiving eyes.
More direct than Twin Peaks and with a harder edge than Jamie Marks is Dead, Dig Two Graves is a beautifully crafted thriller of revenge and redemption devoid of jumps scares, hysteria or overt violence which exists under a sinister blanket of smothering threat, a entrancing but volatile mix which has already won it several accolades including the audience award for best feature at the 2017 Dead by Dawn horror festival.