Review: Open Grave (2013)

Open Grave



Gonzalo López-Gallego


Eddie Borey, Chris Borey


102 min.


Sharlto Copley, Thomas Kretschmann, Josie Ho, Joseph Morgan, Erin Richards, Max Wrottesley

MPAA Rating

R for strong violence, disturbing images and language

Buy on DVD/Blu-ray




Source Material



A unique concept for a horror film can bind less impressive elements together to form a whole that is more or less engaging. Open Grave is a perfect example of that concept.

Director Gonzalo López-Gallego has taken the screenplay by Eddie Borey and Chris Borey and turned it into an interesting, if ultimately lackluster picture. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the film gets off to an inventive start as star Sharlto Copley (District 9) wakes up at the bottom of a large pit filled with corpses. Remembering nothing about what led him into this position, he begins to unravel a grand mystery alongside a quartet of fellow amnesiacs hoping to figure things out before their own deaths.

Everything that has already happened or will happen is understood by a young girl who may have all the answers, but who is both mute and doesn’t understand English. As they struggle to figure out what’s happened to them, they discover that their relationship to one another may have more to do with what has gone on in the world around them than what has happened between them.

The acting is meager, ranging from questionable to mediocre with no one excelling in particular. Copley has quite a bit of experience in this medium, having delivered a superb performance in District 9, but everything he tries here feels overbaked. Audiences want their protagonists to engage their emotions at some level and Copley never quite does it. It just goes to show that District 9 succeeded in spite of his presence rather than because of it.

What is clear is that the unraveling mystery at the core of the film unveils a fascinating picture. The slowly dawning revelations allow the audience to keep track of what’s going on, picking up the clues simultaneously as the characters on screen, while also being able to draw conclusions that the characters might not make. It’s that feeling of discovery that supports the entire film on its shoulders, making for a viewing experience that is at times trying and at other times compelling.

López-Gallego is not a gifted filmmaker, nor are the Boreys superb storytellers, yet somehow the end result of this film, that seems to have gotten short shrift with audiences, is a picture that’s rather intriguing.

When looking for inventive or original genre films, Open Grave is worth the effort of locating and giving it all a go. It is far from perfect, but it’s engaging enough in spite of that.

Review Written

October 19, 2020

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