The award winning Brazilian horror film Beyond the Grave, an apocalyptic Leone-seque movie that is a homage not only of Spaghetti Westerns, but also of films like Mad Max, is now available to view via VOD on Netflix in the U.S. and Latin America. After collecting a staggering 13 awards from the world cinema film festival circuit this “outside-the-box” apocalyptic horror film is compelling viewing.
Beyond the Grave – Porto dos Mortos – writer/director Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro worked on the feature over a six year time period from idea incubation to actual casting and filming. Davi has been working in the film industry as a producer of documentaries and the 2011 film Beyond the Grave is his first feature length fictional film and it has been shown at 70 film festivals across the globe.
The movie’s setting is a post apocalyptic world where mysticism and magic rule a world which is occupied by very few “living” people and a mythological death bringer called the Dark Rider or the Walking Dude. This dealer of death has survived for a long time by taking over the body of its most recent kill. The creature has been followed by the Policial (officer) since time out of mind and they have fought before.
This world is also filled with what appear to be a scattered group of “living dead” that wander aimlessly. When these zombie-like creature come in contact with people they attack. Like other cinematic walking dead apparitions their bite acts as a contagion that kills the bitten victim and turns them into shambling dead creatures as well.
As the audience follow the Policial’s journey they see him pick up a young teen couple, Adriene and Ashley, and the trio meet another group of three that includes a pregnant woman. The hero of the piece is the officer who has a personal score to settle with the Dark Rider. The character is not particularly likable, nor is he overly friendly. He is introspective and fairly non-communicative.
While being stoic, he also is very innovative when it comes to killing. In a world where bullets are in short supply, he learns to use a captured samurai sword in preparation for battle with the Rider and his company. This surrealistic dystopian world is stark and deserted. Filmed entirely in Brazil, the movie does resemble a splendid combination of an apocalyptic Leone-esque world which pays homage to more than just horror films and Beyond the Grave feels almost like a pastiche of western, science fiction, fantasy and art house genres all rolled into one thoughtful journey.
The director has stated that he feels that Brazilian films are moving up the scale in World Cinema and will soon be classed in the same category as South Korean films. This film shows that his vision is not a pipe dream. The amount of care and thought behind each frame of this film is on par with the cinematic attention to detail which South Korean film’s do so well.
Beyond the Grave feels almost dreamlike in its presentation of a shattered world where reality has become so skewed that magic seems to be the new status quo. This apocalyptic scenario feels like Mad Max on Quaaludes with a shot of mescal and magic mushrooms as a chaser. Were this the 1970s the film could be described as being a psychedelic drug-induced trip where good and evil have deserted the arena and left behind a world of grey that struggles to keep out the dark. Available now on Netflix.
By Michael Smith