The new thriller, written by Hunter Adams and Jeremy Phillips was directed by Adams, began filming on Jan. 5 and wrapped up on Feb. 3.
Raised in the north woods of Wisconsin on beer and wild boar Adams, 32, brings his slightly off-kilter worldview to his films, whether it’s romance, comedy, or in the case of Dig Two Graves, a gothic thriller of revenge and buried secrets.
Adams’ previous writing and directing efforts include his first feature film, The Hungry Bull, and the short film Hollywood Beat, which won the audience award at the 2011 Los Angeles Comedy Festival. The Hungry Bull was a whiskey-soaked comedy about obsessive love that traced the unlikely friendship of two miscreants as they sought redemption from their trouble pasts. It screened at the American Cinematheque’s Emerging Filmmaker Series in Hollywood. Adams graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2003.
“We shot all over southern Illinois, including Tunnel Hill, Pomona, Anna, Vienna, New Grand Chain, Olmsted and a number of locations,” said Dig Two Graves Producer P.J. Fishwick, a Michigan native who works in Chicago, adding, “The entire film was shot in southern Illinois. We chose this area due to the epic looking locations that make a great backdrop for the story.”
Some of the other locales used were Cypress swamps of the Cache River, Tunnel Hill State Trail and Cave-in-Rock State Park, the historic antebellum A.J. Kuykendall Home in Vienna and parts of Pulaski County.
The mysterious death of a young boy triggers the unearthing of a town’s long buried secrets. The story of Dig Two Graves centers on Jacqueline, a 14-year-old girl nicknamed “Jake” by her older brother Sean. After Sean mysteriously disappears at a rock quarry, Jake is visited by three moonshiners who offer to bring her dead brother back to life in exchange for taking another life.
As Jake wrestles with this morally uncertain proposition, the dark history of her family is unearthed and the mystery surrounding the moonshiners is illuminated. The moonshiners are portrayed in the tradition of the Shakespearean witches from Macbeth. While the tone of the film blends realism with mysticism, the motives and powers of the moonshiners, like the Shakespearean witches, are largely ambiguous. Are they in possession of supernatural powers or are they tricksters preying upon human fallibility to unleash destruction into the world?
The answers to these questions are revealed only in the final moment of the story. Ultimately, the film is about family and the lengths we are willing to go to in order to protect those we love. The film also calls into question the notion of good and evil, and heroes and villains, suggesting instead an infinite shade of moral grey. At what point does the victim, in a relentless pursuit of vengeance, become the victimizer? The title, Dig Two Graves, is a reference to a Confucian proverb that warns, “When embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
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