July 22, 2014
A man wakes up in what looks like an open grave site, atop a huge pile of corpses. He does not remember his name or how he got there. He joins a group of other survivors, all of whom were in various stages of memory loss and violent paranoia. Who is he, the hero or the villain? Who is that Chinese lady who rescued him from the pit? Why are there dead people all around them? Why are there zombies going after them?
This film was released in the US as "Open Grave," but for some reason, local distributors chose to cut that title to a single word "Graves." Newspaper ads made it look like it was going to be just a another B-horror film. That was unfortunate because as it turned out, it wasn't. Yes, there were zombies in there and there was gore, but "Graves" was more than that. It will make you think and try to figure out along with all the characters who they really were and what the heck was going on around them.
There was only one recognizable actor and that is Sharlto Copley, whom I first knew of in the excellent alien invasion film "District 9" and most recently as the errant king in "Maleficent." He gives the ideal face for the lead character John/Jonah -- a face you cannot trust. However, he still manages to make us empathize with him in his journey of discovery as to who he really was and his exact role in the calamity that has transpired. The other actors are mostly unknown, but they do lend credible support, particularly Erin Richards, who played the lead female character Sharon.
Fans of the zombie sub-genre will like "Graves" because it gives yet another new twist and viewpoint to the familiar story line. The special effects and the make-up were very believable. You will see some elements common with other successful zombie films such as "28 Days Later" or "World War Z", but "Graves" has its own surprises up its sleeve. 5/10.