by Adam McCabe
Open Grave is a flat, tedious horror-mystery effort the ultimately disappoints
Alright, I'll admit it: I have a weird man crush on Sharlto Copley. The man's got talent for days, and I just about worshipped his work in District 9, Elysium and The Europa Report. So you could imagine my excitement as I geared up for Open Grave, a horror-mystery about a man (Copley, John) who wakes up in the middle of a forest to find that he's been thrown into a hole filled with corpses.
Poor John doesn't know where he is (or why a strange mute Asian girl just decided to pull his ass out), but the story likes to think it has the ability to spiral out of control into a web of lies, human error and impending doom. Overall, the cast showed up to work and it's nice to see Thomas Kretschmann go a little batshit, but the plot is a mouthful and the big reveals are a lot of telling without much showing. "Why did this critical event happen?" "Oh yes, I remember now! Because we blah blah blah!" It just gets repetitive and monotonous all the way up to an ending that feels like it was on the chopping block for months before they just decided to pinch off the plot and pray for a sequel as they watched their integrity spiral down the toilet drain.
There is a smidge of potential in Open Grave, and there are a lot of little masterful camera techniques scattered about one of the longest 102 minutes of your life, but it's so desperate to be clever that it seems to have forgotten ... well ... how to just be clever. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to flip on Netflix and re-watch District 9 to re-convince myself that Sharlto Copley makes good choices.