Dig Two Graves is a supernatural thriller that centers on Jake Mather (Samantha Isler), a 13-year-old girl whose brother dies in a drowning accident. When three moonshiners offer to resurrect her brother at the cost of another life, Jake is tempted by this proverbial “deal with the devil” agreement. Ted Levine is Sheriff Waterhouse, Jake’s concerned and loving grandfather who will protect her at any cost.
With just a small budget, indie filmmaker Hunter Adams, who also penned the script, infuses his film with visually arresting compositions and a multi-layered theme which makes Dig Two Graves a substantial cut above the average thriller. A big part of that credit comes from Adams’ meticulous and open ended approach to storytelling.
“A lot of it is subconscious,” said Adams. “I didn’t necessarily realize a lot of the visual themes that were present until I went through the storyboard process and then you start to see things that appear that you necessarily didn’t notice on the written page. Themes get deepened, layers get built throughout the process of both when you’re writing and then shooting (the film). The actors are bringing their interpretations. In the edit process, you’re reshaping and sculpting. I kind of consider the screenwriting process as fluid. It starts on the page and doesn’t end for me until final sound mix.”
Along with first rate work from Ted Levine, Samantha Isler effectively anchors the film as the lead character. Since Dig Two Graves was shot several years ago, this is actually her feature screen debut (she starred last year in Captain Fantastic). Click on the media bar below to hear Hunter Adams talk about casting Isler for the project.
Dig Two Graves is now playing in select theaters and is also available On Demand.
Dig Two Graves begins on the darkest nights of a backwoods area of a small town, as two lawmen (Ted Levine, Danny Goldring) throw a couple of covered corpses off a cliff and into the unforgiving waters.
Moments later writer/director Hunter Adams takes us to that area, some thirty years later, as 13-year-old Jake Mather (Samantha Isler) loses her brother Sean (Ben Schneider) off that very same cliff. Understandably shaken by the tragedy, Jake takes comfort in her close knit relationship with her grandfather, Sheriff Waterhouse (Levine),
Even in present day 1977, Waterhouse is unable to move on from the sins of his past, preferring the company of a dry martini and a cigar as his source of refuge. Though he loves his granddaughter, Waterhouse is determined to keep his transgressions from Jake’s universe.
When three moonshiners offer up Jake a horrific (yet seductive) deal to bring Sean back to existence at the expense of another life, Jake finds herself at a proverbial fork in the road. Will she lead another innocent person to the Grim Reaper just to see her brother once again, or will she rise above the violence of past generations?
Shot several years ago, Dig Two Graves is blessed with excellent work from Levine and Isler, as both make Jake and Waterhouse’s inextricable bond absolutely believable. The supernatural element behind Dig Two Graves deals with the backstory of the moonshiners, but to delve into their own character arcs would be doing the film a disservice. Unlike most thrillers that are often in love with their own cinematic conventions, Adams keeps his top-notch story grounded on an extremely human level, thus infusing a surprising level of emotional gravitas to the narrative.
Waterhouse is attempting to do his best in helping raise Jake (she’s closer to her granddad than her own parents), but he ultimately realizes that offering up a few harsh truths about humanity, rather than protect her from life’s inevitable dangers, is the best way to proceed. By the time Jake makes her fateful decision, we end up caring about all of the characters who live, breathe, and ultimately die in Hunter Adams’ mesmerizing tale.
Though it’s an indie tale, Dig Two Graves makes the most of its budget, as the locations and shot compositions are visually arresting. Anyone who believes they don’t make moves like they used to may have a valid point, but they probably haven’t seen Dig Two Graves. And that, dear readers, would be a grave mistake (pun intended)!!
Dig Two Graves opens in theaters and On Demand March 24.