Movie Review: “Beyond The Grave” Is Terrible Filmmaking At Its Finest


Review by James McDonald

In a devastated post-apocalyptic world where the rules of reality are transformed by magic and madness, a vengeful police officer searches for a possessed serial killer in a battle of the not-so-good versus absolute evil.

When setting out to review a movie, even the bad ones, I always try to find some redeeming quality to it, whether it be the cinematography, the acting or the music. Most times, even if the movie is terrible, you can usually find at least one aspect to recommend it. But then sometimes, the movie is so appallingly atrocious, that the only facet you can possibly recommend, is the closing credits and even then, you wish that they would crawl up the screen at top speed. “Beyond the Grave” is an apocalyptic, end-of-the-world tale about a police officer whose name is simply, Officer (Rafael Tombini), who travels the empty roads of Brazil, searching for an elusive and solitary demon who has a tendency to jump from body to body when the one it is inhabiting is dying or killed.

He stumbles upon a young couple and unwillingly takes them with him to an old abandoned monastery where they meet three more people. An occasional zombie shuffles into the story, probably mistaking the film for “The Walking Dead” and when they realize it’s not, they wander off, never to be seen again. You see, South American zombies don’t have the insatiable appetite that their North American counterparts have so they never attack you, they just look at you for a few moments and then traipse off. The Officer decides to hang out at the monastery where the demon eventually shows up, kills him and then he wakes up, all so he can make his way back to the monastery and wait for the demon again. There is absolutely no lucid formation of anything that resembles a story, none whatsoever.

In one scene, Officer has just shot three bad guys and when he realizes there’s a fourth behind him, he slowly turns around to see his nemesis holding a sword. As he takes the sword out of its sheath, does Officer take his gun out of his holster and shoot him because he’s at least twenty feet away? Of course not. He swaggers towards him, probably hoping that he will be intimidated by his dreadful John Wayne impersonation and waits until the sword has been removed from its casing and his opponent is only two feet away before trying to reach for his gun. Of course, considering that Officer has no fighting abilities and is terrible with a gun and his archenemy is a good martial artist, this doesn’t stop Officer from somehow getting the upper hand and killing him.

Even movies like “Sharknado” and “Dinocroc” have somewhat coherent story lines that even a two year-old would have no trouble understanding. For director Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro, “Beyond the Grave” is his first feature film, having made a couple of short films beforehand but he obviously has trouble trying to structure a feature film, relying instead on trying to create atmosphere using style over substance. It doesn’t work. In order for the viewer to feel any apprehension or nervousness, they must first care about the central characters but when most of them are selfish and people who are not very good, you actually hope that they’ll be bitten by a zombie because they have more personality than the humans do. The character of Officer is reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s Max Rockatansky from the “Mad Max” movies. Officer even drives his own police car like Max did but with none of his personality.

In those films, Max was the anti-hero and says very little but by the end of the story, he always does the right thing. Here, Officer is painted as the strong, silent type but sadly, he just comes off as a dick. He is like a pit-bull chasing after a Porterhouse steak and it never really explains why he is so determined to catch and kill the demon as he is never given any back story or character exposition but the producers probably felt he was too cool to have such a thing. I guess squinting and grumbling will have to suffice. In the end, while Officer is indeed the central character and the person we typically root for in this kind of movie, here, sadly, there is no connection, other than the bullets he fires into the heads of the long-suffering zombies.

Streaming now on Netflix


James McDonald
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