“Open Grave” was quite difficult to find, so it took me some time to finally put my hands on it. Neatly-designed plot grasps the attention, but as the puzzling mystery begins to reveal itself from shades, the story behind the amnesia-afflicted characters loses its brightness and freshness. Hence, “Open Grave”, although it avoids the genre’s clichés as far as it gets – all in all it’s the same story told in a different, smarter way.
A man wakes up, lying in a massive pit with dozens of dead bodies around him. While he is suffocating from amnesia, a mysterious woman walks up to the edge of the grave and throws a rope. Following a path in absolute darkness, he finds a cabin hidden deeply in the wood, where more surprises await. After meeting a group of people in the house, all of them realize they somehow know each other and there is a reason they were all in the same place. Struggling with memory holes, the surroundings become the main source of information regarding their lost consciousness – and the common grave is not the only harrow element of the puzzles. Since that moment, the story will piece by piece reveal a horrifying truth about the group.
The Spanish director Lopez-Gallego, who to the majority of the audience would be just another wannabe-horror-director, takes his time to work on every detail of his movie. He praises the filtered, dark cinematography, which he intentionally mixes with lively sunrays among the trees in the woods, creating a strong contrast between particular parts of the movie. Digging deep into the creation of a hide and seek type of game with the audience, where all the details provided constitute piece by piece a well-designed story, Lopez-Gallego’s “Open Grave” loses the sole idea of a horror movie somewhere in between – it’s nor spooky neither scary. In his undisputable avoidance of standard horror movie, the Spanish director tells the story, which does not affect the audience in a truly spine-chilling manner.
The cast puts merely decent performances in here, being anticlimactic in reference to the witty way of directing. None of the characters is really thought-provoking enough to establish a bond with the audience, which would be strong enough to become attached to them. Although the actors undoubtedly cross the horrific line of “I-am-frightened” mask throughout the movie, the effect is even more delusive – I almost believed that I am not watching another cliché horror. Almost. Apart from that, “Open Grave” proves itself to be quite a surprising plot to follow and this is definitely fun to watch. The director uses a standard variety of spooky tricks, but all in all the trick itself lies in what is not told till the very end of the film.
The era of hundreds of recycled ideas in horrors is a painful phenomenon to observe and every original movie is praised by the belly-pinched audience. There is a need to stress out this fact – “Open Grave” is a captivating plot mixed with eye-catching cinematography, but yet it does not constitute something as innovative as this year’s Australian revelation “The Babadook” (probably one of the most overrated movies this year imho). Not to suggest that it was snubbed off when it came to any sort of awards (two nominations – one at Tribeca and one at Sitges), but “Open Grave” did not receive the decent interest it definitely deserved.
Like this review? Let me know in the comments!