Open Graves (Blu-ray) (2008)

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Released 26-May-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 88:23
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Álvaro de Armiñán
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Eliza Dushku
Mike Vogel
Ethan Rains
Naike Rivelli
Lindsay Caroline Robba
Gary Piquer
Alex O'Dogherty
Boris Martinez
Ander Pardo
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $49.95 Music Fernando Ortí Salvador


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
English DTS HD High Resolution Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

"Curses last forever"

     Open Graves is a straight to TV/DVD 2008 horror film which borrows heavily from titles such as Jumanji and the Final Destination series whereby seemingly innocent choices lead to horrific consequences. There is also a similarity to the Raimi production of Drag Me To Hell which coincidentally was released at around the same time. In this case Erica (Eliza Dushku) and Jason (Mike Vogel) are leading a group of surfers on the golden beaches of Spain. Under ominous circumstances they come into possession of a board game created during the Spanish Inquisition called the Mamba. According to legend the game itself is made from the bones and skin of an alleged witch who died under torture from her priestly tormentors. After a night of revelry the group decide to play the game – a decision that sets in train a sequence of events whereby members of their party sequentially meet unfortunate ends. Eventually Jason and Erica begin to suspect that the game losers, and their subsequent accidents, are somehow connected. This theory is confirmed after confronting the Mamba's former owner, and they come to the realisation that losing in the game condemns you to an early grave, whereas the winner is granted one wish.

     After a promising opening sequence Open Graves lumbers with a cliché ridden plot and wooden characters. Although the leads are certainly good looking there is really little else to get excited about and even the deaths are fairly ho-hum. There is one "eye popping" scene early on which amused me, but if the intention was to horrify then it didn't work (on this viewer at least). The unconvincing CGI didn't help throughout and, unlike similar scenes directed by Raimi (for example), I don't think the campily executed gruesome bits are played for humour.

     Dushku and Vogel haven't got much to work with in the screenplay so perhaps their lack-lustre performances here should be discounted. Their clumsy romantic sub-plot lacks conviction and there seems to be no chemistry between them. Dushku has done good work in the past on TV (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Tru Calling) and the big screen (On Broadway, The Alphabet Killer), and she certainly looks good on screen so I was hoping for better things. Unfortunately however I had to resist fast forwarding to the death scenes to avoid nodding off.

     Open Graves is the headliner movie included as a double-header disc along with 100 Feet.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     This film is presented in 1.85:1 aspect. This seems to be the original aspect ratio but there is a conflicting description claiming a 2.35:1 aspect.

     This is an adequate transfer but not a great example of high definition video. There are no particular faults in the video presentation however it was really no better than what you would expect in a good quality DVD. Blacks were good and there was no trouble in differentiating objects during night and dimly lit scenes. Colours were also good although I expected more pop for the beach scenes in sunny Spain. Flesh tones were good with facial close ups showing an even colouration across the features. There was some digital noise throughout although it was not particularly annoying.

     Overall the video quality is rated as good. The picture detail was sharp enough but somewhat noisy. There were no film artefacts.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     This audio track overall is very good. The default DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at around 2,100Kb/s delivers a good soundstage with directional effects used very well. The alternative Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 at around 1,500Kb/s is very similar to the DTS offering and so I would not prefer one over the other. The DTS version is significantly louder than the TrueHD offering so volume compensation is required when switching from one track to the other.

     There were no audio synchronisation issues and voices were clear and easy to understand. There were no clicks or dropouts or any other audio problems that I noticed. The front sound stage was very good with main voices coming from the centre channel and effects used appropriately from all directions. The surround channels were used successfully to complement the action. The subwoofer was also used to good effect when crashes and bangs were required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu featured looping audio with static background.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This Blu-ray twin movie offering does not seem to be duplicated elsewhere however there are Open Graves movie only versions available on Region 1, Region 2 and Region 4 DVD. The Region 1 version is advertised with 2.35 video aspect but I can't be certain that this is correct. If you have a Blu-ray player then I think this version would be the best option.

Summary

     Open Graves borrows heavily from other better made horror movies but ultimately falls short of being effective. The dialogue is clichéd, the plot derivative, and the acting wooden. There are couple of good scenes but these are book ends to a largely forgettable series of events. Director Álvaro de Armiñán and the film makers are obviously constrained by a tight budget but nevertheless there is a distinct lack of imagination and skill. There are no extras as such and I'd rate this movie as good for a rental only – if only to check out Eliza Dushku.

     The video quality is good. The audio quality is very good.

     Extras are confined to the "bonus" movie 100 Feet.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationDenon AVR-3808 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub

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