Courtesy of Uncork'd Entertainment
Even though the paranormal world has been very much exploited by shows like Syfy’s Ghost Hunters and the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures over the years (just to name a couple) with it’s sometimes clever but usually obnoxious investigations, there are still a lot of corners yet to be explored when it comes to the fascination of the afterlife that don’t involve talking to nothingness inside a dark and dusty infamous location.
Directed by internationally recognized filmmaker Serena D.C and co-producing with Miko Allyn Quinones (who is also the cinematographer on this documentary), a new feature called Beyond The Grave brings viewers into rather some uncharted territories within this mystical and (sometimes creepily fascinating) world of the afterlife. Ms. De Comarmond takes audiences on a fascinating trip, which range from talking to free spirited death doulas who carefully escort those on the final leg of their living cycle to next stage of their existence all the way to high powered mediums who are a middle-man type of messenger for those who are already on the other side and want to send messages across to the living.
Therein lies the real problem with Beyond The Grave. While the overall tone of the film can be quite rocky at times, with the very first minutes being narrated by a rash and hauntingly deep male voice that is then traded in for a more casual and welcoming interview with Mary Telliano (the death doula) and then later on with a misplaced clip from The Conjuring providing a random scream that scares viewers a lot more than any eerie thought process that is offered by Beyond The Grave, what’s more hurtful in a niche-genre like this is that the perspectives that are offered wean more and more in uniqueness as time goes on.
Learning about end of life hospice care that is more home based and spiritually inclined is something that is rarely talked about in the mainstream heartbeat of entertainment. Not only does Ms. Telliano tell us all about her way of rebranding death, the techniques and tools that she uses to make the sick feel at peace but she also provides photos that supposedly show spirits leaving the body. She confidently talks to all viewers when she says that we shouldn’t be afraid of, we should instead try to see where our fear of death comes from because we’re not born with it.
With DC seemingly delivering on unique faces that will help Beyond The Grave stand out from the already saturated paranormal home entertainment market, she next offers up in a rapid fire succession Dr, Eben Alexander, Peter Anthony and horse rider Ellen Whealton who all share near death experiences and have vivid memories of their life altering journeys on the other side. While the authenticity of these interviews very much depend on how much the viewer believes in a higher religion (and well, come across quite preachy at times), the descriptions do paint a very convincing and fantastical trip to another plane and then back down to earth again.
With the filmmakers realizing that these strong takes on someone’s finale might be too much to digest for some, we then take a turn down the scientific routes talking to a scientist and consciousness expert by the name of Adam Curry and Max More (who at the time of filming) was the president and CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation. These unique minds have synonymous and differing takes on preserving you . . . for the far off future. While Alcor specializes in giant cryogenic tubes for your body and much smaller ones for your brain (yes, you heard that right - this is actually happening already), Mr. Curry worries about the concept of your consciousness choosing to adapt in unfamiliar and unnatural types of scenarios. While you certainly wouldn’t expect such a doc like Beyond The Grave to reach these conversations, they are admittedly a very bright spot and certainly something to look forward to in this 80 minute endeavor.
Whether this was the plan from the beginning or more so that there were no more unconventional paths within the time allotted for filming, we then head to the Conjuring House with Ms. De Comarmond where we talk to Andrea Perran, one of those who actually lived in the farmhouse when she was younger for 10 years. Ms. Perran is very calm, open to the energies within the farm and seems very positive to the portals within her former home and while her insights into what her and her siblings experienced are fascinating and come through the camera to the viewer so honest that you now perceive hauntings as just people trying to speak through an invisible wall, the last twenty five minutes of Beyond The Grave borrow from many of the reality shows of yesterday and today.
While the ghost hunting team and medium that conclude this doc should very much be accredited with their own ways of finding out more of this forbidden and ghostly world, the two professions feel like weaker topics when compared to the others we have already come across. Death Doulas, Cryopreservation Chambers and discussion about consciousness being an entity unto itself had Beyond The Grave rise above the rest, becoming highly sophisticated in a market that was flooded with faded apparitions and grumbling voice recordings. A paranormal investigation that suddenly ends with beeps from a palm sized machine and a medium reading doesn’t equate to what this documentary was just some time before that.
As for my first official rating on The Movie Nerds, I will give Beyond The Grave a 2.5 / 5.