Dig Two Graves leaves the audience wondering: What happened with this lifeless thriller? While the premise is interesting, it falls short of horror film expectations.

Set in the 1970s, the story follows Jake Mather (a riveting Samantha Isler) who has just lost her brother in a cliff jumping accident. She’s desperate to bring him back and is completely lost.

The 13-year-old finds comfort in her grandfather, Sheriff Waterhouse, played by Ted Levine, whose acting skills truly stand out in this indie thriller. Waterhouse is no innocent grandfather. In fact, Jake may be paying for the sins of her grandfather. Hence the title Dig Two Graves.

Sheriff Waterhouse has his own dark past, dating back to the late 1940s when he and his partners would shake down gypsies for cash and sex. Meanwhile, a grieving Jake is met by a couple of grungy gypsy-like moonshiners. The moonshiners tell Jake that they will bring her brother back. Only one problem, she has to sacrifice someone else in order to make this happen. Trade one life for another, so to speak.

Although the few star turns in this elevate Dig Two Graves, they cannot overshadow the film’s slow place. Director/co-writer Hunter Adams’ way of jumping back and forth through two time frames muddles the momentum and dampens down the suspense.

The cinematography, however, is gorgeous, and the Southern Illinois setting is perfect for the supernatural feel. Adams just needs to pump up the action and suspense.