Review: Open Grave has many secrets that can’t stay buried

Open Grave, from director Gonzalo López-Gallego, injects new life into an exhausted genre that will tear your mind to shreds, and enjoy doing it every step of the way. It’s truly an original gem, and a damn good one at that as it quickly unravels a terrifying tale of a man who wakes up in a pit of dead bodies with no memory of who he is or how he got there. The story that soon unfolds weaves its way through a haunting mystery that will have you guessing from the very beginning.

Director López-Gallego starts the film off with one hell of an eye opener as we see Sharlto Copley’s character, John, wake up in a massive grave which is home to hundreds of dead bodies. From there the mystery begins as John struggles to remember who he is and how he ended up in this particularly shitty situation. He soon finds himself amongst a group of wide-eyed people suffering from the same memory loss. At this point in the story you have no idea what you’re in for, but where it leads you is one nasty and twisted roller coaster of a ride.

While the film is being pegged as a thriller, it has just as much a reason to be placed within the horror genre because there are more than a few moments that will chill you straight to the core. The film’s major strength is the fact that it leaves its viewer in the dark, making you ask questions every step of the way. We only ever see what the director wants us to see, and he tells us when to see it. This style of storytelling creates a unique kind of tension that turns its darker moments into a heightened level of horror that we don’t often see. Seeing a soon-to-be dead man bound in a barbed wire fence and screaming for help is horrifying in and of itself. But when you don’t know who he is or how he got there your mind scrambles to pick up the pieces. The moments like that are where Open Grave really shines, and it’s cool as hell to watch.

It’s not an easy way to tell a story, that’s for damn sure, but López-Gallego does a phenomenal job without giving away too much at the wrong time. Throughout the film the characters begin to remember small bits and pieces of their past, but these memories are like a puzzle and you’ve got to decide which pieces go where. You’re not quite sure who’s good or bad, but López-Gallego sure as hell knows and he doesn’t mind dangling it in front of you. Eventually, however, the pieces do begin to come together and you’ll quickly be able to paint the picture on your own as the film winds its way to the finale. And because of this, its last reveal may have less of an impact than I think it intended to have, but it’s quickly coupled with a final scene that is nothing short of spectacular and one you won’t soon forget.

Think of Open Grave as rope in knots. Each passing second the twists and turns of the narrative slowly unravel it until we finally have enough rope to climb out of the very same grave we started in. Gonzalo López-Gallego has crafted a brilliant indie film that will no doubt find a cozy, dark corner inside the horror genre. It starts out simply as an open grave, but where it’s headed is truly the most terrifying part of it all because as they say, no secret can stay buried.

4/5

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If you are ever attacked by a gorilla just sit back and relax while you enjoy the once in a life time feeling of your limbs being ripped off.

27 thoughts on “Review: Open Grave has many secrets that can’t stay buried

    1. Thanks man! A 7.5 is solid! Yea, it does jump around quite a bit, but it really had me sucked in from start to finish. A fun indie thriller, and I nice change of pace from what we’ve been seeing lately.

    2. Joseph, I was just telling Ryan about “The Hidden Face”. If you’re looking for something clever, different and unique then definitely check it out. 🙂

      1. It’s on netflix instant if you have that; if not it should be available for pretty cheap on Amazon or i-tunes. Don’t watch the trailer!!! It spoils the twist!

  1. Okay, I will try to check this one out soon. I stopped halfway thru your review b/c I like to go in fresh. No trailer for me, either. I will let you know what I think. And don’t forget about “Hidden Face”. I think you will want to write a review about it, and I’m looking forward to your thoughts. There will be nothing to gross you out like “Contracted”. 🙂

  2. I started watching this a few days ago, but found it painfully dull. I don’t like any of the characters, including Sharlto Copley, and had a hard time watching the 20 minutes that I did. Does it get better after the first act? As of now everything looks cliche.

      1. Okay, I put it back on earlier today and finished it. I didn’t regard nearly as high as you, but I think it was overall pretty good. I didn’t find the ending particularly surprising, but it wasn’t overly predictable, either. One positive that stood out to me was the music. Often times the score is an overlooked and sometimes forgotten aspect to a film that really has the power to bring the story on-screen to life. I thought the music here did just that and added to the experience.

      2. Great point, Gary. The music was fantastic and definitely helped drive the film. Music is so important for film, especially with the horror genre because it helps build the tension when used correctly. Awesome stuff!

      3. I love what Hans Zimmer did with the Batman trilogy. He also did a fantastic job with the Superman score, as well.

      4. You can never go wrong with Zimmer. My favorite composers are Clint Mansell and Thomas Newman. The Road to Perdition score is probably my all time favorite. It’s amazing.

      5. I just listened to the title track on youtube; sounds good. I will try to preview the rest on i-tunes when I get a chance.

  3. Well Ryan, my hat is off to you. I LOVED it! I was starting to think our tastes were just too different. I didnt like Jugface or the original We are what we are. This however pleasanly surprised me. Thanks for the reccomendation. Oh also you were right about the Seasoning House, I dug it. Thanks for all your work.

    1. Glad to hear it, Jill! It was easily one of the more original films I had the chance to see last year so I’m glad you liked it as much as I did. The Seasoning House is another solid flick with some pretty unforgettable moments.

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