Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
In this movie 'Open Graves', Jason (Mike Vogel) is an American grad student living in Spain, though we gotta admit we didn't seem him attend one single class or write one single term paper, as he seems to spend all of his time surfing with his buddy Tomas (Ethan Rains).  Then he sees the pretty girl Erica (Eliza Dushku) and he's done.  But Jason falling for the pretty girl isn't what this movie is about.  No sir, it's about Jason being arguably the dumbest guy on the planet for playing the dumbest game ever created. 

So Jason is walking the streets of Spain and stumbles into a little weird shop that sells really weird stuff.  The owner is some dude with no legs named Malek (Alex O'Doghetry) and Malek is an asshole.  So is Jason for that matter.  This is why when the old lady brings down this ancient looking box that looks to be worth some loot and Malek simply gives it Jason, now being all nice and stuff, Jason probably should've known not to accept this gift, but Jason isn't very bright despite his advanced degrees.

What this box happens to be is a board game and Erica thinks they might as well play the game.  I mean it's not like these people have anything better to do with their time other than surf, drink and smoke dope.  They play the game and from my vantage point the game sucks ass.  I mean it's certainly no Scrabble or anything like that, and every once in a while the player would land on some weird spot represented by a death card and a weird saying.

Next thing you know, young adults of suspect acting ability start to die off.  There's the guy who gets pushed off a cliff by a dragonfly while trying to pee... hold on a minute… sidestepping the simple fact that dragonflies are harmless, but this guy is driving down
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the road and he has to pee.  Nature calls, I get that.  But there are two sides of the road.  There's the side of the road which has no cliff, only grass and trees which is ideal for peeing on, which is also the side of the road he's parked on, then there's the other side of the road that has a cliff, that he had to cross a street to get to and then walk another fifty yards to get to the cliff to pee off of.  The things folks do in service to a horror movie.

The other kids start to die off as well, mostly in ways that are semi close to whatever their card had said and eventually slow Jason figures it has to be the game.  What's the plan?  Finish the game, get a wish, make everything right again.  Not to mention the twist.  But assuming Jason does everything right, I'm still almost positive that he's going to screw this up as well.

I guess there's some kind of sordid history behind this movie 'Open Graves, which was ultimately a sub-par, underwhelming, run-of-the mill horror yarn.  We're told it had languished in some vault for a few years, nobody willing to purchase it until the SyFy channel graciously took it off the hands of whomever owned and it slated it as a Sci-Fi Channel Original.  Since we have to watch all Sci-Fi Channel original movies, we had to watch this one as well, one that had higher production values than your average Sci-Fi Original, but was still pretty lousy.

We had these doubts early on with 'Open Graves', from the simple inclusion of this game and the fact that I doubt anybody, and I mean anybody would actually play it past the first roll.  For starters it's a terrible game and it was given to me by people who are clearly evil.  Come on now.  None of the characters were remotely endearing, which is kind of bad since the only thing we really felt when they kicked off was relief that we didn't have to look at them anymore.  The cut-rate CGI certainly didn't help sell the illusion that we are trapped within some kind of horrible world that we didn't want to be in.  The kills weren't all that imaginative… like a character dying in a car accident.  Come on director Alvaro Aminan… a Car Accident?  Folks die in car accidents in real life every day.  I would expect more from an evil board game beyond dragon fly attacks, cgi-snake attacks, bullets to the head and car accidents.  And don't get us started on the obvious twist which probably would've only been a twist if they had done something else.

But my biggest complaint, and this leads us into SPOILER TERRITORY, would be CGI Eliza Dushku.  We know Eliza ain't getting all nekid and stuff in these cut rate, throwaway movies, we get that.  Rick Fox isn't trying to let the common man know what he's got at home, but when CGI Eliza Dushku emerged from the water, looking all evil and stuff, that monster probably should've been naked.  Eliza even ixnayed her CGI Doppleganger showing some skin.  Come on Eliza.  For real?

Finally, and I'm still SPOILING STUFF, Jason wins the game and wishes to go back before he accepted the game so everybody will be alive.  First, I think this imaginary world was better off with these people dead, but he didn't say 'and make sure I'm not as stupid as before and get the game again'.  He didn't say that.  And everything starts all over again.  Meaning that the original 'Open Graves' is now its own sequel.  How about that for economy?  This one I could've missed. 
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