A Cold Grave (2023) Film Review


A Cold Grave film still

What Brendan Rudnicki and DBS Films are doing since 2017 is unprecedented. This is a production company fully dedicated to the very specific niche of horror who produce using a business model that stays within the confines of independent cinema, and openly invites fans to participate in their films. This way they’ve made more than 10 films that take place in a universe of tropes and storylines similar to what we’re used to. Rudnicki doesn’t usually innovate in his productions, but what he lacks in contributing with new films, he compensates with an honorable process that’s hard not to celebrate. After all, if you’re a fan, wouldn’t you like to participate in the genre?

Their latest venture A Cold Grave is yet another opportunity for Rudnicki and company to show their skills in indie horror territory. However, for this one, they have seemed to grow quite a bit. Their previous films, while interesting, delved too much in the experimental aspect of their technical backdrop. They were makeup effects shows, and displays of clever editing, but seldom anything more. A Cold Grave seems to take a more dramatic approach and while it’s not an exceptional horror piece, it’s good enough to draw attention. In other words, it makes for another good presentation of DBS’ business model.

Most of the film revolves around Roger, an investigator with a personal agenda. His sister has gotten inexplicably lost in a forest and he makes it a mission to look for her. Of course, he intends to record everything. The found footage film incorporates unnecessary sound effects, and removes the realism aspect out of it, but fortunately Benjamin Newark‘s improvised performance is good enough to strap the film to a more grounded plane. In fact, horror fans, may complain that most of the film shows Roger making the journey about himself.

Given that this an author’s work, we won’t complain about decision and simply go with the flow of the film. Yes, it’s a horror film about ghouls and witches, but that’s eventual. A Cold Grave is also an interesting film about a single character trying to give some shape and form to something he can’t explain. Rudnicki truly gives good use to the film’s limited budget, and never goes for the explosive show of monsters flooding the shot. This is Roger’s film.

Makeup effects are great! And they’re done by Tatum Bates, the other film’s lead. This proves the economical vision by a group of producers who prefer to keep it all in the family and make a passion product out of an idea. It’s hard not to think how fun the shoots are. Once you realize how the films are made, you’ll wish to be a part of this.

A Cold Grave is no “elevated horror” or big studio film. Instead, it’s an indie found footage film that works as a business presentation for something bigger that will come in the future. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Rudnicki keeps growing and makes something out of an interesting idea to make films following his status of fans. We all wish we could do it, and yes, we all wish we could make such a fine product like this small indie horror film with a couple of shots that will surely make you jump.

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Federico Furzan

Film critic. Lover of all things horror. Member of the OFCS. RT Approved Critic.

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