Time does not always grant a person wisdom. It's true! In fact, time can often erode your skills, turning a once-brilliant writer or director into a faded photocopy of their former selves. Mike Mendez's 2000 effort The Convent is an imperfect film, for sure, but it's a solid horror/comedy that manages to overcome its obvious limitations by utilizing some brilliant low-budget gimmicks. In other words, it's good B-Grade fun. Of course, that was over five years ago. What have you done for me lately, Mike? Huh?
Unfortunately, the man's lackluster 2005 effort The Gravedancers is a drastic step in the opposite direction. Instead of sticking to his edgy, unconventional guns, Mendez has taken a deliberate wrong turn into mainstream horror territory. Though it still brandishes Mike's eye for impressive visuals and actually manages to build an ounce or two of suspense along the way, the film's goofy premise and its outrageously stupid conclusion will only leave you scratching your head in confusion. It's disappointment personified. And you don't know how hard it is for me to write those words.
The story itself is beyond ridiculous, and prevents those with half a brain from taking it as seriously as Mendez hopes we will. After a childhood friend bites the dust, a handful of twenty-somethings get together to reminisce about old times. Sid, the obvious bum of the bunch, doesn't even bother to attend the funeral, though he's more than willing to sneak into the cemetery after hours to pay a drunken visit to their friend's grave. Thoroughly intoxicated and inspired by a mysterious poem left near a tombstone, the trio spend the rest of the night downing cheap booze and dancing wildly upon a few choice graves. All in good fun, right? Wrong!
The next day, strange things begin to happen to our heroic and uber-successful attorney Harris McKay (Prison Break's Dominic Purcell) and his bottle-blonde bimbo Allison. You know the type: Doors opening and closing on their own accord, pianos playing classic pieces by themselves, creepy long-haired things lurking in the bedroom - basic supernatural fiddle-faddle. After his ex-girlfriend Kira, who also spent the evening cutting a rug in the cemetery, is admitted to the hospital after being discovered huddling in her derelict home, the three friends seek advice from a paranormal expert (Tcheky Karyo) and his assistant Culpepper (Megahn Perry). According to them, gyrating on dead people is bad business, and has caused the inhabitants of the desecrated graves to haunt the respective dancers.