REVIEW: An Unquiet Grave (2020)

dir. Terence Krey.

Bereaved husband Jamie (Jacob A. Ware) loiters, depressed and unshaven, by the the snow-capped grave of his deceased wife Julia. Soon he’s joined by her twin-sister Ava (Christine Nyland): the loss has been hard on them both, but as they speak it’s clear there’s something more – an unnamed undertaking they shared some months back, the effects of which still lay heavy on their souls.

Flashing back to the moments leading up to – and following – this mysterious event, Krey’s directorial debut (co-written with Nyland) emerges as a minimalist two-hander that stares into the face of grief, and the inability some people feel to process this. The Kübler-Ross model suggests that – perhaps falteringly – everyone eventually moves beyond denial, anger and depression to some kind of acceptance of their loss, but here Jamie and Ava cannot, precluded from surviving due to a dark hope which makes them take midnight drives to the roadside where Julia died.

As the stripped down plot is slowly unveiled it does so with beautiful understatement, restrained compositions by DP Daniel Fox heightening tension and giving basic set-ups an elevated aesthetic. So too the performance work is superb, Nyland in particular demonstrating herself a future star in the making as she cycles through the emotional spectrum whilst Ware convinces as a man always a half-breath away from breaking. Unfortunately the pacing lags in the mid-section, and despite the brief run-time the limits of the story poke through the soil long before the finale: though the denouement will send many back to the opening scene to reinterpret clues therein, the blood cooling in their veins.

Ultimately more morose than profound, A Quiet Grave is nevertheless a confident, assured ghost story that showcases Nyland and Krey as emerging genre talents: and with several other collaborations already in motion they’re set to haunt the horror landscape once more in the not-too-distant future.

Tim Coleman

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