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Whispers from a Shallow Grave (1999/2007)

Whispers from a
Shallow Grave


Although the title Whispers from a Shallow Grave sounds like it would be some kind of horror movie, this Ted Newsom film released by Tempe DVD is actually not a horror movie at all.  It's a dramatic reenactment of a real life murder mystery.  Whispers from a Shallow Grave is the story of the murder of Linda Sobek who is played by actress / musician Trudi Jo Marie Keck.  Although Trudi is probably more famous for being the founding member of an all female AC/DC tribute band called Whole Lotta Rosies, she did a fairly good job of acting in her debut starring role.  The film also stars Gerald Brodin as serial rapist and killer Charles Rathbun.  Brodin did an excellent job of playing the villainous psychopath.  Ironically, he has spent a lot of time playing police officers on the soap operas General Hospital and Days of Our Lives.

Whispers from a Shallow Grave is a higher quality film than most that I review.  I would say it's about the quality of a made for TV movie from the 1980s or 1990s or one of the soap operas that Brodin is frequently associated with.  The audio isn't bad and some of the music is actually pretty good.  The picture quality and shot composition are good enough that they don't distract you from the movie itself (unlike many of the low budget and no budget films that I see).  The editing was fine within each scene, but the overall structure of the story caused the order of the editing to be very strange.

I think the biggest problem with the film is that the presentation makes it pretty confusing and somewhat difficult to watch.  The story isn't presented chronologically and it almost seemed like there wasn't much of a plan for the order of things.  You know that the main character, Linda, is dead right from the beginning and you see the murder at the end, but what happens in between, and even the murder scene itself, are presented in such a fractured manner that it's tough to follow.  There is actual footage from the news thrown in as well, so the real Charles Rathbun and Gerald Brodin as Charles Rathbun both get screen time.  In addition, Linda serves triple duty as a standard character within the story, a narrator and a somewhat ghostly conscience of the killer.  As a result of that combined with the complete lack of chronology, you often don't know if the scene that you are watching is a past event, a narration or vision.  Trudy even serves as a witness at the trial for her own murder.  What the hell?

In terms of boobs and blood, neither one is supplied in enough quantity to merit a purchase.  There are a few scenes with a little bit of blood, but nothing that I would consider gory.  Almost an hour into this 90 minute film, you see some T & A during a recap of Rathbun's past rapes.  However, for those of you wondering, you never get to see Trudi nude.  She does appear in a shower scene, a sex scene, her rape / murder scene and several photo shoot scenes, but they are all shot at angles that don't reveal much.

Overall, if you enjoy those real life murder mystery TV shows, but wish they had just a tiny bit of nudity or if you wish didn't make as much sense, then Whispers from a Shallow Grave is the movie for you.  It's not a terrible film and Tempe DVD does have really good prices if you order DVDs directly from their site, but there are a lot of better movies out there.

Gore-o-meter rating: 1 out of 5
(a little bit of blood, but not much)

Skin-o-meter: 2 out of 5 (a few quick scenes with nudity)