The year is 1895 andpolice commissioner Teddy Roosevelt arrives to a crime scene where a young woman was ritualistically sacrificed and the group seemingly responsible for the tragedy, have been slaughtered themselves. Agents from The Office of Esoteric Sciences arrive to investigate the crime as well but what they uncover in that room is far more nefarious than a gruesome murder.
I really haven't been one for the steampunk movement (nothing against it - just not my thing) but I became interested in "The Mechanical Grave" after seeing some images and the teaser trailer. The movie takes place in an alternate 1895 where existence is tied between steam-technology and sorcery. The government has set up a specialized organization: The Office of Esoteric Sciences. Two investigators from this group are sent to investigate an incident where a young girl was sacrificed in a ritual to summon a demon. The group responsible for the murder have been killed and disembodied as well. The investigators: Edgar Allan Poe - an automaton that contains the spirit of the former writer, and Mrs. Emma Entwistle. At the scene of the crime, Poe and Mrs. Entwistle meet police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt who is also investigating the crime. A demon named Neshrew proceeds to inform Roosevelt and the investigators that his summoning was merely an accident, he wasn't the one the cult was after, and that there is a greater evil at play with something sinister being planned for the world.
Unfortunately because the scope of the story is rather large the short film feels less satisfying and rather brisk because it definitely needed to go on longer. However, with what we do get within those fifteen minutes was interesting and engaging, which is the main point of the short film. It's meant to serve as promotional vehicle for what will become a series. (mini/TV) While this initial short feels like it might be lacking a little something, it's purpose is to be the start to something that is much, much bigger and will be expanded upon. Makes it hard to criticize what "The Mechanical Grave" might be lacking but it's easy to see that this short did its job, and did its job well.
Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing the progression of the characters and finding out who they were, who they are and where they are going in this story. Particularly the Poe character since it seems his story is going to be the most interesting - going from a literary figure to a machine that investigates supernatural crimes. Not to say that the mysterious yet sexy (mysteriously sexy?) Mrs. Entwistle or the sword-swinging, gun-toting Roosevelt aren't going to interesting as well. But a mechanical Poe that's been conjured up by what one would guess was dark forces, nudges ahead in the character department.
"The Mechanical Grave" was a well constructed short and I'm sure that has much to do with director Jon Keeyes previous work of having directed several feature lengths and a previous series. It had nice camera work, lighting and excellent sound design but the costumes and props, in particular, were very well coordinated. Like I said, I'm not a steampunk expert but when I hear that term, the look of the characters in "The Mechanical Grave" are what I picture. When the series gets underway and regular installments are produced, I think the series will definitely take off. This movie demonstrated the technical ability by those involved and the potential seemed limitless by the story and characters. "The Mechanical Grave" is something kind of tricky to watch and appreciate because it's not so much about what it is, but what it's leading up to.