Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive (1992)
The Black Hope Movie
I feel like I'm living in the center of the Bermuda Triangle - Jean
With one eye on their retirement Jean Williams (Patty Duke) and her husband Ben (David Selby) buy a new home on a new development where shortly after they are joined by their granddaughter Carli (Kimberly Cullum) when her mum decides to go off with a new boyfriend to Europe. But shortly after moving in the family start to experience strange things going on in the house, especially their other daughter Tina (Kiersten Warren) who becomes seriously ill. When their neighbour Sam (David Soul) goes to put a pool in to Jean's horror they discover the new homes have been built on an ancient burial ground and the developers didn't bother telling anyone.
So here we go with that classic set up of a family moving in to a house, paranormal things happen and lo and behold they find out it is built on an ancient burial ground. I have lost track of the number of movies which have used a combination of those elements before and so whilst "Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive" is reportedly based on a true story, that of "Black Hope", it didn't lead me to expect much. Yet ironically "Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive" is more entertaining than many a movie which uses a similar set up because it is less about the horror and more about the way the family deal with it.
Now that doesn't mean there is no horror in "Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive"; in the early scenes we are treated to such things as a toilet flushing itself, a garage door flying up and down, bugs crawling on a window and plenty more including an ominous shadow of a snake behind Jean. But then we get that something extra and we see how all of a sudden Tina is rushed in to hospital with aggressive cancer. All of this and a lot more including children talking to a street light is thrown at us in the space of the first 30 minutes that you soon realise that this movie is more than just a family being terrorized.
So what does that mean? Well it means that after all these horror aspects and there are a lot of them "Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive" focuses more on Jean and Ben's discovery of what has happened and trying to deal with it. It is because of this that the movie becomes more than just a horror and instead a look at a "True Story" although how much truth there is in the movie I cannot say. It is also this side of the movie which benefits from the casting with Patty Duke coming in to her own when her character has to deal with what they discover about their home.
What this all boils down to is that "Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive" is an interesting take on a very familiar story with it not just being a horror movie but a dramatization of a true story and how it affected a family. With it being over 20 years old it is now dated but still pretty effective especially when you consider it is a made for TV movie.
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