Director – Gonzalo López-Gallego
Cast – Sharlto Copley, Joseph Morgan, Thomas Kretschmann, Erin Richards, Josie Ho, Max Wrottesley
Release Year – 2014
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I had not heard anything about Open Grave until I saw a poster with the ever-awesome Sharlto Copley’s name in big letters, and based on that I knew I had to give this a watch. It was great seeing Copley in the horror/sci-fi (mostly sci-fi) flick District 9, but I was very excited to see him and what he could do in a horror film that does not bend genres. Coming from Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, I was not sure of what to expect given I was disappointed with his previous film, Apollo 18, but he delivered this time and so did the story. Filled with constant twists and turns that keep the viewer engaged, the Borey brothers give us one of the best horror stories I have seen in a long time. Coupled with another great performance from Sharlto Copley, Open Grave will surely be one of the best horror films of 2014.
A man (Copley) wakes up in a massive grave filled with bodies of the recently deceased. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there, and neither do the terrified strangers he comes in contact with. Suspicions are high and tensions arise as they try to piece together clues about their identities, but when they uncover a threat more vicious than themselves they must race against time to figure out what brought them all together.
Open Grave starts off in epic fashion, leaving us feeling the same confusion and paranoia as Copley’s character. The rest of the cast is introduced soon after with them also in the same boat of amnesia, making the first act a very engaging one. While the characters try desperately to remember who they are, why there are there, and how they possibly know each other, there is one lingering question they are afraid to find the answer to; why is there a massive open grave? While the grave is creepy there is death present all around, with numerous corpses tied to trees after obviously suffering agonizing pain before a much-desired death. The story slows in the second act and revelations arise, filling in the blanks over who is who and why they are there. When the third act hits the intensity increases and one last revelation leaves the viewer in awe over what was really going on in the solemn forest plagued with death. I really enjoyed how creative this story is and how it took its time developing. You may feel like you know what is going on, but writers Chris and Eddie Borey throw you for a loop again and again.
Gallegos’ direction is solid and it is great to see him return to the horror genre with a better film this time. He sets things straight and takes control from the get-go, giving us an awesome intro that ends in pretty shocking fashion when you see the massive grave our lead is trying to climb out of. The tension and paranoia of the first act is well executed and he manages to keep this feeling throughout the film. Acting performances help sell this character conflict and while everyone does well you already know that Sharlto Copley steals the show with another solid performance to add to his resume. We see some OK kills and decent gore, but this flick really is not about that. Most of said horror comes from the corpses adorning the land and the film’s real horror is character related. Does that mean there are no scares? No, there are definitely some scares and obviously with all of the storyline’s revelations there is more to the story than the character horror.
Overall, Open Grave is a great horror film that I recommend to all. The selling point may be its inclusion of the popular Sharlto Copley, but the film has even more to offer thanks to good direction and a pretty creative, mentally engaging story.