open grave | gonzalo lopez-gallego | eddie borey | chris borey | sharlot copley | thomas kretschmann | josie ho | mystery | thriller | united states | hungary | zombie | zombies | infection | joseph morgan | erin richards | max wrottesley | marta szabo | balazs szitas
Film: Open Grave
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Writer: Eddie Borey and Chris Borey
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Thomas Kretschmann and Josie Ho
This was a movie that I’m not entirely sure when I added it to my Netflix list for DVDs in the mail. This couldn’t have been one of my college adds, due to the year. Regardless, I randomly got this movie and decided to blindly give it a watch, having very little idea of what it was about. The synopsis is a man wakes up in the wilderness, in a pit full of dead bodies, with no memory and must determine if the murderer is one of the strangers who rescued him, or if he himself is the killer.
Much like the synopsis states, we have Sharlto Copley wake up in an open grave that is full of bodies. He finds a gun and throws up due to his situation, also having no idea how he got where he did. Someone then throws down a rope so he can escape. She is an Asian woman who is a mute and is credited as Brown Eyes (Josie Ho). This man has an odd cut on his arm and he heads to a nearby house.
Inside he finds a group of people trying to figure out what is going on. They’re all having troubles remembering who they are or how they got here. One of the men has a seizure of sorts, but gets through it. IDs are produced where they piece together everyone’s names but the man from the grave. Lukas (Thomas Kretschmann) is leery of that man and doesn’t think he should have been rescued. There’s also Nathan (Joseph Morgan), Sharon (Erin Richards) and Michael (Max Wrottesley). The group goes about trying to figure out who they are and how they got here.
Everyone keeps getting glimpses of who they are from different things. Nathan realizes that he can read Latin and French, which makes Michael think that this is his house or at the least, his books. Michael is really good with firearms and there’s a closet full of them. The man from the grave eventually learns that his name is Jonah and that he thinks he was seeing Sharon.
Things take a turn as they find a woman tied up in a shed. There’s something not quite right about her and Brown Eyes goes to feed her. She is quite aggressive as well. She’s not the only one like this and they find bodies are strategically placed as well. The question is why and why does Jonah keep having flashbacks of him attacking a woman and dragging the body of someone toward the grave? Much like the synopsis asks, how are these people connected and why are there here?
As I was saying in the beginning, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. I do like some of things that this does though for sure. It gives it a vibe of like an Identity or Memento in the fact that the characters don’t know how they’re connected or how they got there to start. I think it is an interesting way to fill in the back-story through their memories as well. It is interesting that they’ll do something and it will trigger them to remember. This is something that happens to me quite a bit in real life. I have a really good memory, but when asked on the spot, I can’t remember. It is when something triggers it that I can recall a good amount. Getting back to the movie, as the characters do, they might only get part of a memory so it doesn’t make sense and it makes them question their nature from what they have remembered as well.
So there’s a reveal in this movie that I don’t really want to spoil for you. I’ll have a brief spoiler section at the end, because I would say that just over half way through the movie, it gets revealed what type of movie this is actually. If you know me, I do like movies of this subgenre, but it is one that they really do have to do something new for me to really enjoy it. I thought this did something like that for sure. I was a bit annoyed that they weren’t going to flesh out the story more. I think that they did that well enough. There’s actually more here that could be expanded as well.
That will take me to the pacing of the movie, which I did have some slight issues with. I was hooked in the beginning of this story with these characters having no idea who or why they’re there. The idea of remembering things as we go was good, but I do think that we don’t necessarily get enough and there’s a massive dump of information near the end. I was glad that at least got that, but there are still some questions that I had. This doesn’t make me hate the movie, but also cannot fully love it either. The ending was solid though to be honest.
The acting for the movie I thought was pretty solid. I thought Copley is good as the lead and he plays this role in a way that works. I like that immediately him and Kretschmann’s character of Lukas is butting heads. They don’t trust each other, but Lukas thinks Jonah is bad where Jonah kind of agrees with him. He wants to get to the truth and I like that the more we learn, how different this goes. I would say that for the most part, these two are the stars and Jonah really discovers most of the story we’re piecing together. Ho is solid as a mute. I think that would be a tough role to play and she was fine. Morgan, Richards and Wrottesley are all solid as well. They round it out with the rest of the cast we get here. I should also say that Richards has some beautiful eyes.
I want to take this over to the effects next. They’re actually really good. I think that they’re done practically and if not, they have some good CGI that is subtle. The look of these people who are infected by something is good. I also think that the wounds on people do as well. The cinematography is also really solid for what they need. They do an interesting effect that we see is fuzzy, signifying that their memories are hazy. I like the set up to indicate that. I did also have a slight issue with how grand what we’re dealing with is. It doesn’t necessarily need to be explained, but I was curious regardless.
Now with that said, this is an interesting film. I like that we’re presented with a blank slate and as these characters are figuring things out about themselves, we’re learning it too. It prevents just knowledge being spoken to us and I can appreciate it. It doesn’t work well with the pacing. I will admit though, I did lose interest briefly in the middle and thought they could have done a bit better than just dumping all of the knowledge near the end. The acting though was good as were the effects. The soundtrack didn’t necessarily stand out, but it really did fit for what they needed for sure. I found this to be an above average movie and would be interested in checking this out again to see what I might have missed.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
What I didn’t want to reveal without warning first is that this is a zombie film. The group came together to try to find a cure before the infection went too rampant. Jonah is in charge of this with his brother Nathan. Sharon is Jonah’s girlfriend. I believe that Michael is kind of a security detail to protect them as they have a lot of subjects that are infected living in the area to test their attempts at a cure to this infection. Lukas is one of them.
The marks on the arms of everyone is that attempt to administer a vaccine. Lukas doesn’t have all of the information and turns on Jonah due to what he thinks he sees on a camera. Nathan didn’t lock a door well enough so some of the infected have gotten out. They also only have two days until an extermination squad shows up.
This becomes problematic though as the vaccine seems to cause short-term memory loss. That explains why no one remembers anything at the start. It isn’t a vaccine if you’re already infected, which we see with Lukas is sinking back. Brown Eyes is also the key to a cure, as she is immune to it. I like this idea, but I just think it could have been presented a bit better as a lot what I’m stating here gets revealed with like 10 minutes left in the movie. I know it is a bit difficult to do, but just an issue I had with this first viewing. I’ll definitely watch this again now knowing what I do.