Writer: Charlie Comparetto
Cast includes: Kelli Berglund, Olivia Larson, Maria Olsen, Nikki Blonsky
Oh, the angst of being a teenager. Not many would dream of reliving the high school drama, raging hormones, and mean-girl cliques that haunt the memories of adults still. In the 2019 film, Ghost in the Graveyard, writer/director Charlie Comparetto takes this one step further. Toss in a ghost who stalks the town graveyard and what have you got? A teenager who has a lot more to worry about than homework.
The story opens with a group of children playing in a graveyard on a crisp autumn day. We are introduced to a young Sally Sullivan. The children sing a creepy nursery rhyme and play a game of hide-and-seek. But when one of the kids remains in hiding until nightfall, the game takes a dangerous turn and the life of Sally will never be the same again.
Ten years later, Sally (played by Kelli Berglund), now a teenager, returns to her town of Mount Moriah following a mysterious nine-month hiatus. She’s greeted by her father and brother, who jokingly asks, “Is she gonna stay this time?” Thus, begins Comparetto’s attempt into answering this question.
Sally settles in all too quickly with awkward pacing. The family gives little to no indication of her story or why they are anxious about her return. This becomes a running theme throughout the movie. Lots of questions, very few answers. When Sally returns to school, the mean girls have the same questions the viewer does. Why did Sally disappear? Why do people assume she went to a mental institution? But Sally remains tight-lipped, making the mean girls more determined to find answers. The film is extremely stingy with its reveal. It seems set on holding back the pieces of this puzzle for the sake of the ending, but by then, the audience is tired of waiting.
The horror in this teen scream is lackluster with an inability to create fear-inducing scenes. Again, this has to do with the pacing. Many of the scares were set up and delivered at lightning speed, rarely building anticipation and giving the viewer a chance to wonder what might be around the corner.
However, there are some notable mentions for Ghost in the Graveyard.
The setting is a picturesque New England landscape, which feels fitting for a horror film. The overhead shots are eloquent and give a feeling of tranquil wonder. Also impressive was the soundtrack, an original score by Assaf Rinde.
Ghost in the Graveyard also handles its themes well.
“I just want to be normal,” Sally says at one point in the movie. It is a phrase that is quintessential to the teenage experience. Seeking self-identity and comfort in one’s own skin is a struggle for many young people. It is relatable when Sally later asks, “Who am I?” to which her father replies, “You’re Sally Sullivan.” I believe that Comparetto does a wonderful job in using horror to capture the internal crisis many teenagers face.
All in all, Ghost in the Graveyard is an ambitious attempt to tell the story surrounding not just a teenage girl, but a community plagued by evil in their midst. There are things I wish I could have seen and experienced, such as clearer and deeper dialogue between the characters. But Ghost in the Graveyard is a fun film for a light scare, and all without having to leave the television for a cemetery.
To learn more, visit: www.ghostinthegraveyardmovie.
Ghost in the Graveyard (2019). (2019, October 18). Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7124092/