Once again, I am covering the Fantasia International Film Festival from the lovely comfort and confines of my own home. I honestly love that Fantasia allows remote coverage. It’s great for people like me. People who are not allowed in Canada. For my first review, I’m going with directors, Sebastien Landry and Laurence Morais-Legace’s Game of Death. It’s an indie shocker from Canada (Canada again, huh?) and / or France. Let’s get into it, shall we?
It’s party time at grandpa’s vacation home and the millennials (not pejorative, i swear) are ready to party! You’ve got your stoner, your meathead, your uptight guy (in a Funny Games outfit), your douchey drug dealer, and three young women in bathing attire (they don’t really have distinct personalities. at least not at first). After some sexy shenanigans, they stumble upon a game called “Game of Death” (titular!). Why not give it a whirl? They all place their fingers on the board and press start. YIKES! Every one of them got their fingers pricked! The screen says 24 and it’s playing a little jingle. The rules say they have to kill that many people or be killed themselves. Is it for real? Yes. Yes it is. That’s made very obvious soon enough when the (very short) allotted time for their first kill elapses.
Millennials are doing some amazing things. Progressive, positive, culture-changing things. There are, however, selfish, narcissistic assholes among their ranks, so they’ve often been collectively stereotyped as such. Game of Death doesn’t completely reduce these young people to those negative, easy-target, punching-down stereotypes so popular with the grumpy Gen-Xers (and above), but it doesn’t quite rise above them either. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Genre fans tolerate archetypes in horror movies. In this case, these neo-archetypes (i just coined that. right now) serve only to get us to the good stuff – the carnage. This film makes no pretense of developing emotional connections with its characters. (in lieu of depth, there’s a single weird / icky relationship) It’s all about the bloody havoc these people wreak. There’s plenty of that to go around. Heads explode. Bullets fly. And bodies pile up as the game’s old school LCD screen counts down. There’s fun to be had for fans of over-the-top violence, but the film may not reach very far beyond that particular audience. If the filmmakers meant to comment on narcissism and self-preservation, the message is faint and buried in gory static.
The Final Cut: Game of Death is a fun, frenetic showcase of violence. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in gore. If you don’t expect too much logic or depth, you’re sure to be entertained!
Post-script: Media types (like me) are being asked to mention all 3 production companies for Game of Death in our reviews. They are: La Guerrilla (Montreal), Rockzeline (Paris) and Blackpills (Paris).