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The Independent Critic

Rafael Tombini, Álvaro Rosa Costa, Ricardo Seffner
Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro
89 Mins.

 "Beyond the Dead" Review 
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Even if I did have to go out of my way to actually sign for this indie horror/thriller, there's something incredibly cool about opening up the package and finding in your hands a Brazilian-made film. The film is the feature film directorial debut of Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro, and while it serves up all the quirks and foibles of your usual low-budget indie it also serves up a tremendously promising filmmaker.

The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic Brazil and centers around a legendary police officer (Rafael Tombini) who is searching for a maybe serial killer known as "The Dark Rider." As he searches, the unnamed officer runs into other survivors and a few zombies along the way.

Beyond the Grave is gifted tremendously by the stand-out camera work of D.P. Mellisandro Bittencourt. Bittencourt has an incredible gift for framing shots just perfectly, capturing the sparse landscapes and desolate areas in a way that is almost hypnotic. He utilizes shadows quite well, setting the film's mood and serving as the perfect companion for Davi de Pinheiro's occasionally muddled yet always intriguing story.

It's pretty clear that the filmmaker is a fan of the horror genre, with a wealth of references to a wide variety of indie horror classics contained within the film. Unless you're a hardcore fan of the indie horror genre, they'll likely go over your head. If you are a fan, however, you'll undoubtedly admire the creative ways in which Beyond the Grave pays tribute to other classics.

Rafael Tombini is a joy as the unnamed police officer, a guy so cool and collected that you're never quite sure whether we're watching a Fulci film, an old western or possibly even Zombieland. The supporting cast is a bit more hit-and-miss, though I did really dig Ricardo Seffner and Amanda Grimaldi as a couple of teenagers our cop picks up along the way and teaches them a bit more in the way of street smarts.

Beyond the Grave could easily qualify as an experimental film, and for the most part the experiment works quite nicely. While the film's pacing is occasionally a bit of an irritant, it's pretty easy to see what the filmmaker's going for here and when he hits it on all cylinders it works pretty incredibly. The film isn't quite as intense with the zombies as one might expect, though it was nice to see a bit of deviation from the usual frenzied gore.

Beyond the Grave has been making its way around the North American film festival circuit, while just today (June 15, 2012) played the Portugal Underground Film Festival. For more information on Beyond the Grave, visit the film's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic