Thursday, November 3, 2011

'Open Graves' is not worth your time

Open Graves (2009)
Starring: Mike Vogel, Eliza Dushku, Ethan Rains, Lindsay Caroline Robba, Naike Rivelli, and Gary Piquer
Director: Álvaro de Armiñán
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A group of 20-somethings (Dushku, Rains, Rivelli, Robba, and Vogel) working and surfing in Spain fall victim to a powerful and deadly curse after they play a board game made from the bones of a witch.

If you've seen the classic movie "Jumanji", you know the basic premise of this film. You've also seen that premise used far more effectively. Heck, you've even seen more intense and frightening scenes than what you'll get in this horror movie.

"Open Graves" features a script so weak and predictable that I wonder why it was made as an R-rated film. Anyone who has seen even one other film featuring a cursed object will be able to guess where the film is going, up to and including the ending, so the only audience who would have enjoyed this picture would have been young kids. Everyone else will grow increasingly bored as this movie unfolds and brings nothing new. (There is a creepy little twist involving Eliza Dushku's character toward the end of the film, but it's so minor so as to be a reach for me to even mention it as a positive aspect of the film. I suppose the subplot involving a police detective with a dark agenda is also unpredictable... but only because it ends without any particular resolution. Not a Good Thing.)

Of course, it doesn't help the overall weakness of the material that the actors appear to have been cast mostly for their good looks than their talent. They add more attractiveness to this already beautiful-looking film, but they ultimately also help emphasize the emptiness and unoriginality of the script, because there is little or no life to their characters. The exception to that general statement are Dushku and Vogel, who bring enough charisma to their characters that we care a little about what will happen to them... but for all but the most entertainment-starved captive audience that's not enough to make it feel like watching this film was time well spent.


Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

I wished you had reviewed this film earlier, Steve, because you would have saved me from wasting ninety minutes of my life watching it. I caught Open Graves when the film premiered on Syfy on September 19, 2009, so I didn’t even get the “advantage” of the R-rated material. I watch very few films on SyFy’s Saturday nights, but I must admit I was lured into watching Open Graves by the appearance of Eliza Dushku in the film.

You are correct in stating that Open Graves is predictable; but more unforgivably… dull. The director and that script writers have primarily written for TV and it shows. Open Graves might have made a decent hour-long episode of a TV horror anthology, but even at eighty-eight minutes it feels drawn out.

Visually Open Graves looks like it should be a quality production, but in every other facet it just feels cheap. Eliza Dushku has been in some pretty lousy low-budget horror films in the past – most notably Soul Survivors (2001) and Wrong Turn (2003) – but Opens Graves is by far her worst.

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

I take full responsibility for your suffering. This film has been in my review pile for a long while (along with "Soul Survivor") but I was only reminded of it when I saw an ad on Syfy that they'd be airing it as part of their "31 Days of Halloween."

If I'd been on the ball, an hour and a half of your life could have been saved! :)