Open Grave (Blu-ray Review)

Open-GraveI approached Open Grave completely blind, not knowing really what to expect aside from Sharlto Copley being in the movie.  I didn’t really read the plot synopsis or look at the cast list or who directed it.  I knew it was a horror movie based on the title and the box art, but that was about where my knowledge of the film ended.  In essence, I think this sort of helped kind of get in with its set of characters as they were all trying to figure out who they were and why they were there.  I knew just as much about them as they did.  With this in play I think I was roped in  a bit more for this film than had I read what likely described the entire first act on the synopsis.  But where would it all lead, and would I stay just as invested for the entire run time.  Well, that’s not something I’m gonna play my hand on in the first paragraph of the review, so keep on reading to see.

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A man awakes in a pit of dead bodies on a rainy night with no memory or recollection of anything.  He is rescued by a woman and finds a house with some people gathering in it.  The people appear hostile to him, but he soon learns they are in the same boat as he.  They have all just recently awoken with no memory.  The woman who rescued him is a bit of a mystery herself as she is a mute and cannot write in English.  As they journey through the house and the area to rediscovery who they are and what they are doing they come across many dead bodies, infected people and a calendar with the 18th circled.  And from the markings on the calendar, its 2 days away.  What will happen on the 18th and more importantly who is everyone and what is going on?

I’ll give this film some credit, its got a terrific little hook to draw you in.  Its a horror-mystery hybrid that places you in the detective hat with the characters themselves.  However, there’s no real clues to try and do the guesswork yourself, you kind of learn and piece together “with” the characters and never get to inch ahead of them with your smarts.  The film doesn’t allow for it.  However, it is actually a pretty smartly written films as many corners could have had some dumb moments, but the dialogue actually figures itself out.

Sharlto Copley is given the reigns of this film to take the lead.  Personally, I’ve never been a fan of this guy in anything I’ve seen him in.  In Open Grave, he wasn’t too bad though.  I don’t know if its merely by the nature of his stature in the business, the script or himself, but his character of John/Jonah was the most interesting and non throwaway of the bunch in this cast.  In fact, Copley really is responsible for carrying this movie and does a sufficient job.  Any faults in the film really aren’t any of his doing.  There’s really no great takeaways of interesting actors here aside from the mute.  Its not bad, but just feels like “stock” horror movie supporting actors.

I found myself with this film at the beginning, sort of losing me with some generic horror/zombie stuff, pulling me back in mildly then twiddling my thumbs again back and forth and so on.  It has the makings of being a far more interesting film, it just was too much in the middle to be one.  Once they introduced some of the infected/zombie aspect of it, it started to become a bit more route and a little less interesting to me.  I was still interested in seeing the endgame, just more interested in them telling me than eagerly working through to get there.  The film is a solid escape if you’re looking to get away from bigger studio productions.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2:42.1

Clarity/Detail: This is a good clean picture with a healthy layer of grain (this was shot on film!!).  Characters and objects are sharp.  Plenty of distinction of blood and dirt on clothing.  Surfaces and objects have a fair amount of good definition to them as well.

Depth: Depth is rather average.  Although, any time we are focused in the pit looking out and a shot at the end are quite good.

Black Levels: Blacks are jet black and there are some instances of crushing throughout.

Color Reproduction: A well saturated wheel of colors.  Nothing really popping but promoting a more solid realistic used look.

Flesh Tones: Consistent, slightly browner.  Plenty of detail of cracks on the face and facial stubble.

Noise/Artifacts: None witnessed

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: There’s a wonderful sense of volume in place here that gives the added score or effect jump in contrast to the volume of the film.  The dialogue is set lower which has the viewer turning it up only to make a shot, crash or score hit only the more likely to startle.  Its a great idea that some of the best horror titles use to their advantage.

Low Frequency Extension: While not entire forceful, there is some good use with car engines, bashing in of things and gun shots that get some use.

Surround Sound Presentation: There is some really great stuff going on here.  When its outdoors there is wonderful playfulness with birds chirping and other ambient noise that is having fun speaker to speaker instead of just one mono hollow sound throughout.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp, clear and front heavy.

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Incredibly light here.

Behind The Scenes (HD, 3:41) – A little Tribecca Film Festival EPK piece featuring interviews with cast and crew.

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I would suggest checking this out via VOD or Red Box before purchasing.  While I was slightly underwhelmed I could see this being a bit bigger with some other people.  If you like it, great!  It’s got a really good presentation, thought you’re not getting much of anything in the extras department.  Its definitely some solid weekend horror movie night rental material if you’re looking for something new and planning on watching multiple movies in a night.



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