Cult Cinema: Open Grave

Here's one we missed when it first got released. It's a horror film called Open Grave and it stars Sharlto Copley.

"Give me back my cookies,
you son of a bitch!" 
This hybrid film fuses a couple of genres, both of which have been played out to endless redundancy year after year. However, it's the manner in which these two genres entwine that makes Open Grave an above average thriller very worthy of your time. The exciting thing about the story is that revealing one of these genres will ruin your experience if you're going into Open Grave the way it's meant to be entered: having no idea what it's about.

We've seen the other genre's themes spun hundreds of times before. You know the one where a bunch of strangers meet who have no clue how they all got to where they are or what relation they have to each other, but they're all angry and scared. Open Grave is another one of these films, and although not incredibly unique, it's written with an adept grasp of mystery and will keep your eyes and ears peeled for any clue you will hungrily consume.

To get the best from this film, I advise that you know as little about it as the characters know of their situation. I'll give you the basics. Sharlto Copely, the brilliant out-of-nowhere talent from District 9 and Elysium, plays a man who awakens in the middle of nowhere, deliriously stumbles through a forest, and slips into a plot full of strangers who seem to just be trying to survive. But why? How did they get here? Do they know each other? Who's the bad guy? Who's good? Where did you get that? And Why is everybody yelling?!

Saying almost anything more about the film would be doing a disservice to the creators of this delightful thriller, but I'll mention a few notable tonal choices. It's a dark, twisted, brain tingling, and intense tale. Nearly every moment of the film you'll be scratching your head, not in confusion, but rather intrigue. The characters will say everything you're thinking. You'll be frustrated with them, shocked with them, and baffled with them.

Complimenting the chaos, the film makers overlaid a high-contrast, dirty finish to the video, all captured

through mostly handheld photography. Normally, the raw, shaky-cam vibe is a major turn off to me, but I wasn't bothered at all by it here. It wasn't overdone.

Open Grave is certainly not a masterful work, however captivating. Some of the direction and dialogue can seldom flush subtlety straight down the drain. For a plot this smart, it was jarring to hear some of ham-fisted lines sneak into the mix or other painfully obvious handholding employed by the director.

For as solid as it remains, I must say that as the veil is finally lifted near the conclusion, it starts to lose some
"Oh man. What the hell did they do
to the Ninja Turtles? This preview
looks like crap!"
of its bite, but maybe that will be good for some viewers. I prefer films of this nature to leave me with more for my brain to chew on after its closing moments. Some bigger revelations come wrapped with too nice of a bow for my taste. That's not to say it's wholly spoon fed. It's certainly not. I personally feel Open Grave deserved just a teeny bit more eerie secrecy by its close. Regardless, I highly recommend checking this out as soon as you can.

-JG Barnes