(NIGHTSTREAM 2020) FILM REVIEW: AN UNQUIET GRAVE is a haunting meditation of how unchecked grief can turn you into a monster.


Director Terence Krey’s film is built on two compelling standout performances that anchor this story of grief gone too far.

Grief is one of the most powerful forces that one experiences in their lifetime. It can destroy the foundations of a person’s center irreparably. It can twist our compass from aiming at a north star sure and true towards what can take our mind off the pain, even if it is only for a passing moment. It can make us change who we are into someone whose love we cherish, wouldn’t even recognize us as today because grief has twisted us into the opposite of what we love. These are the fears and doubt from grief that cloud judgment. It is these issues that come to bear in Terence Krey and Christine Nyland’s AN UNQUIET GRAVE, making its debut at the inaugural Nightstream Film Festival. AN UNQUIET GRAVE follows Jamie (Jacob A. Ware),a widower who is in profound grief over the death of his wife Jules (Christine Nyland). His only partner in this suffering is Jules’ twin sister Ava (Nyland in a dual role), who finds that half of her is missing after Jules’ tragic death in a car accident. One day, while they both visit Jules’ grave, Jamie tells Ava he’s found a way to bring Jules back from the dead but he needs her help. Ava is shocked but doesn’t dismiss the offer out of hand. When months later, Jamie mentions the possibility of bringing back Jules again, Ava agrees to go along with it. The two participate in a strange ritual, one where Ava has to give up of her own blood to help resurrect Jules. But when nothing seems to happen, Jamie confesses there is something more to what he has been telling her. Before we know it, Ava realizes the only way for Jules to come back is by taking Ava’s body for her own as a willing sacrifice, one Jamie is willing to make for her.

AN UNQUIET GRAVE reminds one of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary in many ways; stories of the dead being brought back against their will and once they’re back they aren’t exactly right, but it’s also because the person who is bringing them back can’t let go. The film hinges on the chemistry between our two leads in a unique way; given that Nyland is essentially playing a dual role with a completely different relationship to Ware’s Jaime. As Ava, Nyland is Jaime’s partner in grief; crushed that her other half is missing and seemingly stuck in a rut in her life where she doesn’t know where to go. As Jules, her death is as fresh as if it just happened yesterday, but she feels off and she sees her husband is not the same man she remembers, but a broken shell of that man who cannot share with her the devastating true cost of her resurrection. Nyland makes the two seem like unique individuals in her portrayal, but Ware has a complex role as well as he is the one peeling the layers for the audience as we discover what he has done through his performance. A difficult task given that we have to empathize with him and his grief until we see what he has actually wrought through his actions.

Krey does a great job of making this film seem a much bigger production than it likely was budget-wise through creative shot staging and a powerful and intimate performance from both his leads. The film tells a simple story but watching it unfold through two powerful and dedicated performances really shows the heart and dedication of the team behind the film. It works and it’s a genuinely frightening film because you can empathize with Jaime and maybe almost see why he does what he thinks he needs to do. Grief can take you to dark places and AN UNQUIET GRAVE shows you how dark those places can be.

– 3 of 5 stars
Solid performances with a great premise that delivers drama and follows through with a unique genre piece.