Film: Open Grave
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Joseph Morgan, Thomas Kretschmann
Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego
Writers: Chris Borey, Eddie Borey
The trick to a good thriller/horror is to only reveal enough plot to keep the audience intrigued. Most of these films involve trying to figure out who the killer is amongst a group of people that are stuck somewhere together. Usually only one person dies every so often and most clues are actually just red herrings. Open Grave takes that concept and turns it on its head, making for a very entertaining experience.
Instead of starting off slow Open Grave begins with a man (Sharlto Copley) waking up in a mass grave in the dark. It soon becomes clear that the man has no memory of who he is or why he is in a pit full of corpses. After being rescued he comes across a house with a handful of other people who also have no memory of themselves or what happened around them. The movie quickly becomes a race to figure out what is going on. Oh, and there are zombies.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am sick to death of zombie movies. Those undead bastards seem to be everywhere these days and it has gotten old. Somehow, though, Open Grave presents them in such a way that instead of being completely turned off by the presence of these creatures you will actually become intrigued. Why are they there? How do the amnesia stricken characters fit in to this? Open Grave eventually answers all of your questions but it happens slowly over the course of the film. Each character slowly remembers bits and pieces of their own story out of context which leads to some very tense and suspenseful moments.
My only real complaint with the film is that some of the characters seem a bit underdeveloped. They just do not seem like real human beings. A few cast members portray great character development while others seem robotic in their responses to what is happening around them. Perhaps this was a conscious choice (I know plenty of people that go numb when they are faced with extremely stressful or emotional situations) but what comes across on screen feels lazy and underacted.
Luckily the setting and cinematography mask a lot of these problems. The entire film manages to give off a post-apocalyptic vibe. the lush forest and surrounding run down buildings set up the perfect mood for the scenes they surround. Shit gets real around decrepit barns and make shift refugee camps that are clearly run down and long since abandoned. By contrast, the safe house used by the amnesiacs is clearly well stocked and maintained. It almost seems surreal compared to everything around the area.
Open Grave is a horror/thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. Some of the cast may not be perfect but an intriguing plot and fresh take on the undead make it a film worth seeing. If you cannot find it at your local theater make sure you check it out on VOD.
Review written by: Justin Proper