Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Best Brazilian Zombie Movie You'll Ever See?: "Beyond the Grave" (2015)

A small film with big ambitions still manages to impress.

Officer (Rafael Tombini) cruises around "Mad Max"-style in a black muscle car looking for his mortal enemy- The Dark Rider, a mass killer able to take the form of any person it dies near. Officer keeps up with his police work, keeping files in his trunk and typing reports up on a manual typewriter. The countryside is inhabited by "returners," zombies who shuffle around and don't cause much threat unless you get cornered by them. The remaining humans find shelter wherever they can, and ammunition is a rare commodity as they fight the zombies and each other.

Officer picks up a couple of teen siblings, and eventually stumbles on a house inhabited by a man, a pregnant woman, and a creepy guy you know is going to be the cause of all the problems to come. The Dark Rider makes a surprise appearance, complete with murderous entourage, and Officer must deal with him...her...it...

Because the film is in Portuguese, I did have some problems following the story. De Oliveira Pinheiro does a nice job on very little. The gore effects are outstanding, the cinematography is crisply realized, and the framing is very good. Tombini reminded me of Peter Weller, he is bespectacled and dressed in black, but not a macho Road Warrior superhero. He gets hurt, too, and bleeds like the rest of us. You can see how the new group of people in his life are messing up his lone wolf persona through his reactions. The budget was obviously limited, you can only watch a car take an "abandoned" stretch of road before realizing he isn't going very far, just within the same one or two miles if that. I did like the disembodied voice on the radio, dropping clues about what happened, and an odd scene before the returners came, when we see Officer has been fighting The Dark Rider for longer than we thought.

This isn't scary per se, "Beyond the Grave" is more interesting than anything. It's not a bad film at all, and burgeoning horror film makers could probably learn a trick or two. I'd like to see what Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro is capable of with a blockbuster budget, he has the human interaction down cold. Recommended. (* * * *) out of five stars.