It’s only a game…
Derivative, convoluted and resolutely unscary, Open Graves bills itself as a surfing horror movie – but there’s very little board action and it’s horrific only in the artistic sense of the word. Like a hackneyed cross between Final Destination and Jumanji, the by-the-numbers plot sees a group of beautiful surfers – holidaying in a Spain where everyone speaks English with a Manuel-esque accent – assemble to play a mysterious board game called Mamba. Given that this is a game made from the bones and skin of a witch murdered in the 15th Century, this is, of course, a Very Bad Idea. And once the player begin dying in the order in which they were knocked out of the game, surviving players Jason (Mike Vogel) and Erica (Eliza Dushku) realise they must finish playing if they have a hope in hell of saving their friends.
There is some fun to be had in the death scenes; as each layer meets their end according to the ancient ‘death cards’ in the game, this is a licence for a variety of gruesome scenes including crabs, snakes and the like. Gorehounds will be sated; the effects are suitably sticky even if the CGI leaves much to be desired. Taken at face value – and there’s no choice to do much else, as there’s no narrative depth to speak of and the characters are so two-dimensional as to be almost transparent – Open Graves just about works as a Friday night frightfest, particularly if you’ve had a few beers. 1.5 stars
Stars Eliza Dushku, Mike Vogel
Director Alvaro de Arminan
Distributor Icon Home Entertainment
Released February 15