Directed by Brendon Rudnicki, who also shares writing credits with Kellan Rudnicki and Ciara Wojtala, “A Cold Grave” delves into the realm of found footage storytelling, a genre choice that has become both a blessing and a curse in the world of filmmaking. The film grapples with an ambitious premise, exploring the mysteries of a haunted forest where a chilling silence follows the disappearance of a girl.
The found footage style, often employed to mask shortcomings in camera handling and storytelling, is apparent in “A Cold Grave.” The amateurish nature of the film is discernible, creating an immediate awareness of the challenges it faces. However, what unfolds in the narrative keeps the audience engaged, navigating through the protagonist’s journey with both anticipation and skepticism.
The film opens with a provocative question: “What makes a man want to kill himself?” Roger (played by Benjamin L. Newmark), our protagonist, sets the stage with this inquiry, immediately drawing viewers into his turmoil. As he introduces himself, a monologue unfolds, shedding light on his missing sister and the dire consequences of leaving her case unresolved. The promise of the “real story” tantalizes just before the opening credits roll, setting a mysterious tone for the unfolding narrative.
Roger’s mission is clear — he embarks on a quest to find his sister in a wild, haunted forest, a place he claims to know intimately from his upbringing. The film attempts to adopt a self-documentary style, with Roger documenting his journey and delivering monologues to keep the audience informed about his progress. The premise holds promise, with Roger emphasizing that he and his sister cannot get lost in these woods, having grown up surrounded by them.
As the story progresses, Roger encounters other individuals in the woods, sporadically revealing new found footage on his phone. These snippets aim to fill in the gaps of what might have happened to those who went missing before him. The film, blending horror, thriller, and mystery genres, promises an immersive experience, yet it falls short of delivering a clear and satisfying resolution.
One of the film’s drawbacks is its lack of clarity in storytelling. The blend of genres should ideally enhance the narrative, providing a comprehensive understanding of the mysterious events in the haunted forest. Unfortunately, “A Cold Grave” leaves the audience wanting more, as the conclusion fails to shed light on what exactly happens to those who go missing in the woods.
While the film succeeds in creating a tense and ominous atmosphere, it struggles to reconcile the inherent challenges of the found footage style with the demands of a cohesive and satisfying storyline. The ambiguity surrounding the fate of the characters diminishes the impact of the overall viewing experience, leaving the audience with unanswered questions and a lingering sense of dissatisfaction.
In conclusion, “A Cold Grave” is a film that grapples with its chosen style, attempting to balance the allure of found footage with the need for a well-defined narrative. I will score it 5/10 for very obvious reasons.
Despite its shortcomings, the film struggles to captivate viewers with its atmospheric setting and intriguing premise, making it a worthwhile watch for those who appreciate the tension and mystery inherent in the haunted forest genre. But is that enough to make you want to see this film multiple times?