Sunday, June 23, 2024

Vae Victis: Open Graves (2009)

Open Graves (2009)
Rating: **
Starring: Mike Vogel, Eliza Dushku, Iman Nazemzadeh

While vacationing in Spain, American surfer Jason gets a free antique board game from a creepy dude with stumps for legs. It's called Mamba and the goal of the game is to dice roll your way to the middle of the board, where you drop your token into a model of a snake-headed tower and make a wish. Supposedly, it'll grant said wish true, but for every dice roll that land on an "open grave", players are hindered by a card draw which may contain a cryptic, rhyming message about their fates, thus kicking them out from the game.

So, yes. It's cursed. Very. 

That news comes very late for some of Jason's companions who lost at the game when they decided to try it out for shits and giggles. One gets nibbled and pinched to death by bad CGI crabs. Another gets bitten to death by bad CGI Black Mambas. A girl gets aged to death, while another gets a low-budget Final Destination-style outing. Frankly, it's all very mediocre with a laughable amount of cheese due to how dated the computer effects were for the deaths, creature effects and some oh-so-spooky shots of ghostly apparitions. 

To be fair, Open Graves (2009) has a neat idea, but its direction and execution lack the proper grit and flair to make the story scary or thrilling enough to be above tolerable, leaving us with a monotonous and uninspired letdown of a movie despite all the little things throw in. The second act, for example, practically rips off Wishmaster (1997) with the whole "I'll fix this by wishing to undo everything" shtick, only it's easier thought than done as the game has a terms and conditions to be followed, which further complicate matters, add more minutes to the run time and gave the game more personality than the characters piling up the kill count. By the end of it, the film was simply going nowhere new or exciting, which might be okay if you're just in it for the ham and disappointed laughs, but we can certainly do better than this mess.

1 female tortured to death
1 male found flayed
1 male falls off a cliff, eaten alive by crabs
1 male bitten to death by venomous snakes
1 female rapidly aged to death
1 female caught in an explosion, burned to death
1 male shot to death
Total: 7

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