A man (Sharlto Copley) wakes up in a giant grave filled with countless cadavers and no memories as to who he is or how he got there. He manages to crawl out and... I ainâ€™t saying shite...
Just when I thought I was done reviewing in 2013 (if you can call this crap that), here comes OPEN GRAVE
squeezing in at the last second. I had to tweak my TOP 10 of the year cause of this badboy, yeah you guessed it, I freaking Ioved it. OPEN GRAVE comes from Spanish director Gonzalo López-Gallego who gave us the average APPOLO 18
in 2011 (no, I didn’t hate it like everybody else) but hey he made it for the Weinsteins aka The King of Studio interference. So here the hombre goes back to his indie roots, with no monkey on his back and in my book of blood, he’s a better filmmaker for it!
I got to hand it to OPEN GRAVE; it had me guessing like a “dufus” on Jeopardy and I only started to clue in as to what was going on at about the halfway mark and yes for me that was part of the fun. I love it when a movie turns a subgenre on its head, slaps an engrossing whodunit my way, keeps me on my toes and toys with my expectations, and OPEN GRAVE did all that and with panache to boot! The fact that it slyly put me in the lead character’s shoes mucho helped keep me in the dark. The lead didn’t know what was going on and neither did I and when he got information, I got it as well, so in a way; I, the audience member (or the a-hole) took that journey with him. Kudos for the casting of Sharlto Copley as the main character; the dude made for an affable if not suspicious hero, the camera loved him and as we known, he’s able to display so much edge, that the film had me baffled as to the true nature of his role.
The supporting cast also jacked up the quality of the picture. I didn’t know any of them and I’m sure that played in the film’s favor. But I know them now: Erin Richards (gorgeous, credible and focused), Joseph Morgan (this dude is gonna be star sooner than late, he has that “thing”), Thomas Kretschmann (reminded me of a young Liam Neeson), Max Wrottesley (very likeable) and Josie Ho (said so much with her eyes) were all rock solid and gave me a motley crew that I warmed up to and rooted for, even when they turned on each other. Visually, I gotta say it, VIVA INDIES CABRONES! The better independent horror films take chances in the way that they communicate their tale, and OPEN GRAVE was all about that jive, I loved the stylistic touches here and there, be it via fly angles, novel camera movements or slick editing tricks. Creativity baby, out of the box! The moments of high tension, the dread filled atmosphere and the gloomy score by Juan Navazo contributed to making this a groovy horror experience too.
On the downside, I wish there were more bumps in the road. Meaning; there was a lot of build-up and some payoffs but they weren’t balanced out. More twists and turns in the story and further physical confrontations would have been nice. Finally, the flick lost some of its steam (And I stress the word "some", as I was engaged anyways) during its middle section, nothing worth whacking your neighbour over, but I noticed it and I say it. But don’t let these nit picks scare you off, OPEN GRAVE was a freaking treat for this horror fan, it took the familiar and did something fresh with it and personally, it ended my horror 2013 on the right neck-snap! I went in blind with this one, I didn’t even clock the trailer and I recommend you do the same. The less you know, the better it will be! Open this grave and have a blast!
Not much to be honest; we get a ghastly stabbing, some gun shot wounds, some ghastly makeup effects and that was pretty much it
OPEN GRAVE somewhat reminded me of a horror Memento, it had the same angle (lead with no memory) and the path to discovery as to the WHO, HOW and WHY had me by the balls to say the least! It also had awesome acting across the board, an infectious bleak mood, inventive camera/editing work and a solid score. Sure the flick could have used more plot twists and the middle section lost some of its edge, but on the whole OPEN GRAVE was one of the best horror movies I have seen this year. It managed to take something weâ€™ve seen before and twist it into something unique. I'm glad that I managed to catch it under the wire! Look for it on my Top 10 of 2013!
The film is available on VOD December 24 2013 and in select theaters on January 3, 2014.
Erin Richards was born on May 1986 in Penarth, Wales, UK.
The film was shot in Hungary.