Movie Review: 'The Burial' is a Terrific Piece of D.I.Y Horror
The low budget indie horror flick The Burial is consistently inventive on a shoestring budget.
The Burial (2023)
Directed by Michael Escalante
Written by Michael Escalante
Starring Faith Kearns, Spencer Wetzel, Aaron Pyle
Release Date March 3rd, 2023
Published February 28th, 2023
A man sits in the woods crying. In the foreground is a shotgun. That's the intriguing start of the horror flick, The Burial. The scene hard cuts to a suburban apartment where an adorable couple is having an adorable conversation and being adorable when the phone rings. The man in the woods, is Keith (Spencer Wetzel) and the man he has called is his brother, Brian (Vernon Taylor). Brian can hear the desperation in his brother's voice and agrees to go and see him at a cabin in the woods, near where the movie began. Brian's girlfriend, Molly (Faith Kearns), insists on going along despite Brian's warning that his brother is... troubled.
The film establishes this point of intrigue, why is this man crying, why was the shotgun in the foreground as he cried? How are these things related? We will come to find out exactly what happened but first the movie settles us into who these people are before we set the plot mechanics in motion. Keith has shot a man and this man may or may not be dead. The supposedly dead man is Lenny (Aaron Pyle) and he haunts Keith's every moment. The choice of what to do about this dead or perhaps not dead man makes up the plot of The Burial.
The Burial is an incredibly low budget film and looks it. The visual elements are about as well as you can accomplish on a budget that would barely cover the catering on a theatrically released horror movie. Choices made in the lighting of scenes are mostly about trying to deal with the strictures of the location and the amount of money available to accomplish what needs to be done for the plot. I appreciate the efforts of writer-director Michael Escalante's use of darkness and low light to hide what may be lacking in the location and production design. An inky black void briefly becomes a set in the movie and it's quite effective.
The tools of low budget horror are well used in The Burial. Slamming doors, distant sounds, things that one character can see but others can't all make appearances and provide a vehicle for the horror at play in The Burial. The film has some fun with windows as things move behind characters and give us visual information that the characters don't have. That's a terrific feature of low budget horror and it's used effectively in The Burial.
Of course, if I am going to judge the overall quality of a movie, it's best to judge it on whether or not that movie contains an Ax Fight and The Burial does have an Ax Fight in it, making it a 10 out of 10 movie. I'm only kind of kidding here, I really enjoyed the Ax Fight but moreover, I enjoyed the performance of Aaron Pyle as the mysterious Lenny. He has a particular intensity that raises the tension of the movie in the second half. Just when the movie needed a kick in the pants to turn to the finish, Pyle dials up his performance to 11 and it gives the movie just the right horror movie villain energy.
The Burial is a great deal of fun. For a low budget horror movie, it really makes the most of its limitations to deliver a solid, tense, fun ride from start to finish. The little touches like that intriguing opening visual and the ratcheting up the tension in the final act, gaining more and more momentum after one final inciting incident, it's a terrific piece of low budget filmmaking. If you like D.I.Y horror movies, you are just the right audience for The Burial.
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About the Creator
Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for Everyone's a Critic Movie Review Podcast. I am a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.
Sounds intriguing! Nothing wrong with low budget horror. 😊