Open Grave drops the audience along with John (Sharlto Copley: District 9, Elysium, A-Team) into a juicy situation. As John wakes up outdoors, memory gone, corpses everywhere, and stretches his achy bones back into functionality, the immortal Hitchcockian question is served: what if?
What if one were to wake up and not know who she or he was? What if she or he didn’t know her or his purpose? These are the driving, motivational questions requiring exploration before dinner. So, don’t discount the under the radar film that’s in it for the down-and-dirty.
After strolling around the bend of a hill, John finds a gun and, then, a house. Inside, a small group of fellow paranoid amnesiacs are attempting to piece together why they are there and who they are. As John enters, Sharon (Erin Richards) exclaims that she trusts him, but she doesn’t know why. However, Lukas (Thomas Kretschmann) only remembers that John came in on the boat with the corpses and not on the other boat that the rest of the group was on. He doesn’t know anything else but, regardless, these types of lures get the gills frothing. The conundrum-course of fish only gets more enigma sauce poured on it when they meet a terrified mute they decide to call Brown Eyes (Josie Ho). Enticed by the set-up, which was also used in cult-classics like 1997′s Cube, where the mute was autistic and the trapped strangers were in a giant, mechanical transforming box of traps, as well as loosely in games like Dead Island, the audience will be chewing away at the morsels lying about the home.
Why is there a huge 18 painted on the outside wall? Who is the guy trapped in the barb-wire fence? I’ll say no more.
The overall movie and the big finale looks made on the cheap, but Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, as illustrated above, gives the first half a rudimentary plunge, where the speed and depth are inescapable. Various creeps lurking in the woods are worthy attention grabbers until the arrival of philosophically wind-bagging video footage and short-sighted, single-celled military personnel. That’s when things turn from delicious to blisteringly predictable. All of a sudden, the audience is gazing at their hands and side-stepping the essential Hitchcockian question to wonder where their controllers are. Dead Island and Cube never thought you were stupid. They let you play, and the mystery was fun to peel. All at once, the set-up to every survival game out there is not only similar, but more inviting. Too bad. Open Grave gets you going, effectively dicing out savory bits until it kills your patience.