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OPEN GRAVES
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Reviewed by: Mike Catalano

Directed by: Álvaro de Armiñán

Starring:
Eliza Dushku
Mike Vogel
Ethan Rains

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Some surfer dudes come into possession of a gnarly ancient board game called Mamba. Excellent! However, what the dudes don't know is that those who lose at the game... wind up dying in real life! Bogus!
Is it good movie?
Oh, Lord, here we go. Please allow me to pass "Go" and confirm your suspicions that yes, OPEN GRAVES is indeed the mentally challenged bastard child of JUMANJI and FINAL DESTINATION. The only difference between those two two earlier flicks and this one is all-around quality. Why the gorgeous and talented Eliza Dushku can't find better projects than this just baffles me. Yes, I believe GRAVES was filmed two or three years ago, but she was just as hot a commodity back then as she seems to be today. Maybe she just used it as an excuse to take a vacation to Spain (where the flick was filmed)? All I'm sayin' is that the girl deserves better.

OPEN GRAVES has already played on the SyFy Channel and sadly, it only reinforces the understanding that most flicks that go "direct-to-SyFy" are shit. The main problem, I feel, is that the initial setup itself sounds silly and childish. Who would really be into a board game that kills people? Sure, it worked for JUMANJI because is WAS a child's movie. But in the realm of R-rated horror, kinda lame. So I suppose it was tough for me to stay on board for the entirety of GRAVES' 85-minute running time.

I felt embarrassed for the actors involved, including Eliza. They were flipping out and writhing in terror because the board game was gonna get them! Doesn't that just strike extreme fear into your heart? There was even an actual scene near the end where Mike Vogel (who I at first thought was FD's Devon Sawa) says, "I feel ridiculous." I wonder if that line was truly in the script or he was just speaking from his heart?

And speaking of "the script", I wonder how many versions of it were churned out before ending up at the nearly pointless mess contained on this DVD? There's zero character development, idiotic instances occur that oh so conveniently help along the plot, and weird shit happens for no apparent reason. There are a lot of dragonflies fluttering about on the screen. Why? Beats the shit out of me! One character's demise involves some sort of rapid aging process, yet there is no real explanation of how it's transpiring. And don't even get me started on the rushed, out of left field, totally unsatisfying ending. If you do actually decide to watch this (probably because you're obsessed with Eliza) take solace in knowing that I am not revealing a spoiler, but rather assisting the terrible script by saying the board game could somehow have some kind of connection to a witch. Somebody needed to tell writers Bruce A. Taylor and Roderick Taylor that randomly inserting an idea towards the end of a film does NOT make it cooler.

Was there anything redeeming with OPEN GRAVES beyond Eliza's sultry stare and voice? Um, well, there was one pretty cool death by crabs (not the venereal disease). The others were pretty uninspired and contained some really crappy special effects. Tell me, why the f*ck would you use CGI to create sparking electric wires? Holy shit, does it look fake! That's it, I'm done. Game over. Go directly to jail.

Video / Audio
Video Widescreen 1.78:1

Audio: was a screener, so whatever.

The Extras
Screener-land, so nada.
Last Call
JUMANJI'S FINAL DESTINATION, I mean, OPEN GRAVES was dead serious about dishing out shocking horror. Unfortunately, no matter how many times the dice was rolled, it ended up being a loser. Sorry, Eliza.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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Dusku, Eliza