Who am I is the first question asked by Sharlto Copley in the newly release OPEN GRAVE. The film opens with Copley waking to find himself in the middle of the night inside of a large concrete pit surrounded by corpses. Looking around he finds a lighter and a pistol. Luck seems to shine on him when someone up top hears him call for help and tosses down a rope.
Climbing out, he walks through a dark forest in the rain until he comes to a secluded house. Creeping in, he comes across 5 other people. No one trust one another and there seems to be little more than confusion until they calm down and begin to share their stories. The 5 in the group woke to find themselves in the house with no memory of who they are or how they got there. The only clues they have are driver's licenses with their names on them and a set of keys. None of them know who Copley is.
Scouring the house for clues they find little, but as the film progresses they begin to have bits and pieces of their memories return. Eventually they come to know that Copley's name is Jonah. Among the 5 who were in the house, one is a mute young Chinese woman who seems to know more than the rest but has no way of communicating what she knows to them.
Continuing their search for clues they split with a part of the group going out into the surrounding woods the next day to see if they can find any answers. While gone, one of those left behind hears a plea for help and goes to investigate. He comes across a man half naked and trapped among barb wire on a fence. As he goes to aide him get out, the man laughs and proceeds to try and strangle him with the wire, eventually stabbing him in the neck with a piece of wood from the fence. The others come to help but arrive too late. Jonah kills the insane man and they return to the house.
As the film progresses so does the slow and steady decent into madness among the survivors. Each one of them has a feeling that they know the rest but they just can't quite put their finger on how. As the clues mount and bits and pieces of memory return, they're just never quite sure how to view their memories. Taken out of context they could have done bad things as Jonah feels he did. Then again those that think they are the good guys could actually be the worst offenders. Until the end of the film we'll never know for sure.
Various attempts to find help result in their coming across groups of insane people wandering from place to place in the forest. A group of cabins ends up being filled with people all mad with intent to do bodily harm. The danger comes not just from these groups and individuals that they find but from the members of the original group as well as they begin to loose faith in one another. Just what was it that happened? Why are these people the way they are? Who is behind it all? And is Jonah the man who caused it or someone sent to help?
All of these questions are answered by the end of the film. Getting to that point makes for a fascinating journey down a dark road with side trips to the world of insanity along the way. While watching you just can't help but wonder what you would do under the same circumstances. Could you survive and would you want to in a world like this? And is it just this location or is it everywhere?
The entire group of actors pulls off what could have been an ill conceived movie that many will think is little more than just another zombie flick. But I will spoil one thing by telling you that these are not quite zombies here. The actors all bring a tremendous amount of reality to their characters making them believable and not just card board cutouts. The range of emotions from fear to confusion to hope, are displayed by each.
There are scenes in this movie that will stick with you and haunt your nightmares. But in the end the best thing this movie does is entertain. It makes you consider what you would do if places in the same situation. Most of all it tells a story that unveils as it progresses giving you just enough to hold your interest as it moves forward, never revealing anything too soon. What more could you ask for in a movie?