Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Mike Vogel, Eliza Dushku
Genres: Mystery & Suspense
An international group of young surfers comes into possession of an ancient artifact, Mamba, an old board game made from the skin and bones of a witch executed during the Spanish Inquisition. At a drunken party one night, ... more »
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Unoriginal but Better than Most Horror Rentals
Compay | New Orleans, LA | 03/31/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Open Graves is slightly better than most straight-to-video horror flicks, though by no means a standout movie. This was the directorial debut of Álvaro de Armiñán, and to his credit, the director does a solid job. He serves up good cinematography, and quality lighting. The film was shot in Spain, which makes for a beautiful and exotic backdrop for the story.
The plot obviously borrows ideas from Jumanji and Final Destination, though the execution of the concept is original. The first death in the movie is certainly more hardcore than what the Final Destination series offers up. My bigger complaints with the movie was that CGI effects were overused, and none of the acting performances stand out. I was also disappointed by the manner in which the Mamba game must be concluded (with a question), as the writer ripped the idea off from the speaking doors in Labyrinth.
I mostly watched this movie because of the ridiculously sexy Eliza Dushku, and coupled with the game design, it made for a decent horror movie. My opinion: Give this one a rent from Redbox before you decide on buying the DVD."
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 06/23/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Open Graves (Alvaro de Aminan, 2009)
I think I saw this movie a couple of years ago, except back then it was directed by Joe Knee, it was called Ghost Game, and it was at least kind of watchable, in that horrific, can't-tear-your-eyes-away kind of way. Here, we have the stunning Eliza Dushku, who after a series of small but interesting roles really kicked her career off in 2000's Bring It On, and has made really, really bad movie choices ever since, from the execrable Soul Survivors to this particular piece of silliness, which combines the aforementioned Ghost Game with Final Destination (kind of) with a dash of Hellraiser to come up with something that manages to be both entirely unoriginal and entirely unscary. Kind of odd for a guy who's been assistant director and/or second unit director to such lights as Pedro Almodovar (Live Flesh, All About My Mother), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto), and Cesar Martinez Harrada (Everything in Place).
So anyway, plot: stoners/slackers on vacation (Cloverfield's Mike Vogel and stuntman Boris Martinez in his first acting role--neither of whom were scripted nearly as white as they are, judging by the way they make fun of Dushku's being white early in the film), along with a pouty model (Lindsay Caroline Robba, also in her first acting role) Pablo is shooting for a calendar and an enigmatic bathing beauty (Dushku) who comes along for, well, no apparent reason, pick up an old (as in Inquisition-era) game called Open Graves in a small market in Spain. It's rainy that night, so they decide to play with some other friends. They soon discover that every time the game is played, one of the players who drew a particular type of card loses his or her life in some really odd way. (Think of it as Monopoly's Chance cards, only with fortune-cookie sayings that are somehow in English, despite the game having, you know, never been out of Spain.) I'm sure you know the rest. Solve the mystery before Final Girl (obvious who that is, no?) gets chomped by the curse, or whatever. There's an even sillier subplot with an obsessed police detective (Gary Paquer), but I won't go into that here.
I'm not sure how many ways I can say the word "dumb" without a handy thesaurus, so I'll just say this movie is dumb, dumb, dumb. As usual, Dushku is way too good an actress for the role, and you can see her trying to break out of it, but without success. (Until the last fifteen minutes, when her part becomes so unintentionally hilarious that even Meryl Streep couldn't have saved it, that is.) Vogel plays the same kind of cocky-yet-affable guy he did in Cloverfield, so no big stretch there, but he's a likable enough actor. Other than the two of them, however, there is not reason one for you to watch this movie. Oh, and did I mention that it's dumb? * ½
This horror movie about an evil board game is, well, boring
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/17/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"With "Open Graves" it is time for another thrilling episode of movie calculus. For this 2009 horror flick take "Jumanji" and add it to "Final Destination," then add a splash of your pick of the "The Blind Dead" movies, subtract "The Monkey's Paw" (a classic short story in the horror genre that apparently nobody in this movie has ever heard of), and throw in a hint of a Bill Murray movie that will give away the punch line. Then, for good measure, go watch your favorite Eliza Dushku horror movie or an episode from one of her television series, all of which are way better than this film. We begin with a nice little flashback to the Spanish Inquisition, when a witch was condemned to a torturous death and then had her skin and bones used to create an ornately carved board game. The Egyptian board game Senet dates back to 3500 BC, so it is not farfetched that the Inquisition would come up with a sick and twisted board game, just that it is a sick and twisted pro-type for Monopoly, which does not pop up in the real world until 1930. Cut from dark dungeon of the 15th century to the present day in Northern Spain on a sunny beach where surfer girl Erica (Dushku), meets up with Jason (Mike Vogel), who buys a board game called Mamba from a creepy storekeeper. That night Erica, Jason, and his idiot friends, all of who are obviously fated to die before our two leads are left to try and stay alive until the final credits, get drunk and play the game. It turns out that when you play the game whoever wins gets their heart's desire, and everybody else will, well, you know....
To be specific: every time you land on certain squares on the board you pick up a game card, each of which has a cryptic rhyming couplet that tells you how you are going to die. The game ends, people start dying, and damn if they do not start dying in the way predicted by their card. Who saw that coming? If this is not bad enough, the world weary Detective Izar (Gary Piquer) shows up and starts asking quesitons. Seems somebody was recently skinned alive, which we all recognize as being what happened to Mamba Masamba, the witch from the film's prelude, but of whom the detective knows nothing. But he is interested in the game, which is not a complication Erica and Jason need in their quest to stay alive. Basically at this point you will have a series of gruesome deaths (lots of attacks by lots of animals, involving a sort of plagues of Egypt vibe, which is in keeping with the Old Testament level of vengeance favored by the Inquisition), of varying degrees of interest and grossness, until Erica and Jason try to play out the end game.
There is never a point in "Open Graves" (a title, by the way, that really tells you nothing about the plot or action of the movie), where you care about the survival of anybody else besides Erica; any similar feelings for Jason will be squashed well before the end. I suppose if you do not care about all the handsome young things dying, then you can better enjoying watching them die horribly, but that pretty much defeats the whole idea of being horrified by a horror movie. Of course, Dushku's character has a clue sooner than the rest of the menu in this movie, but it takes a while for the others to catch up, and then it is, of course, too late, so on and so forth. This is the first director credit for Álvaro de Armiñán after twenty-one films as a second unit director or assistant director and he appears to be hampered by the special effects in this low-budget film in terms of coming up with any memorable sequences after the grizzly opening ( I kept dozing off and had to do picture-go-back to see what I had missed, which was never worth the effort). As for the writing, the screenplay is by Roderick Taylor and Bruce A. Taylor, television writers who graduated to the big screen with "The Brave One," which makes me think that this was something they had on the shelf, because this is certainly not a step forward. My final comment would be that if you want to see Eliza Dushku, go on line and find photos of her to look at, because there is not enough of that in this movie to justify rounding up either. At least she got a trip to Spain out of this one."