It seems like all of the young people in the world spend all their time on their phones, partying, playing video games and generally screwing off… at least, that’s the way horror movies portray them. For the beautiful millennials in Game of Death, a film coming at us from Blackpills, La Guerilla Films, and Rockzeline, the decision to forgo the party for the game table may just be the death of them.
Premiering July 15th at the Fantasia International Film Festival, Game of Death was co-directed by Polyvalente TV series directors Sébastien Landry and Laurence “Baz” Morais Lagacé. The script for the film was a group effort between the two directors as well as Philip Kalin-Hadju (Skal 2017) and Edouard H. Bond (La Chienne 2013). The outstanding special effects were created by the team behind 2015’s goretastic Turbo Kid – Carlo Harrietha and Jean-Mathieu Bérubé. Produced by Kalin-Hadju, Mathias Bernard (Skal 2017) and Pierre-Alexandre Bouchard (Skal 2017), the film stars Degrassi: The Next Generation’s Sam Earle, Victoria Diamond (The Demons 2015), Emelia Hellman (Bellevue 2017), Catherine Saindon (Fatal Vows 2012), Erniel Baez Duenas (19-2 TV series), Nick Serino (Sleeping Giant 2015), Thomas Vallieres (Only Bar in Town 2013) and Jane Hackett (Sirens 1993).
The official synopsis:
Kill or be killed is the golden rule of the Game of Death. Sucks for seven millennials who ignored that rule. Now each one’s head will explode unless they kill someone. Will they turn on each other to survive, or will this sunny day be the last for the innocent people of their middle-of-nowhere town?
I’m going to start off by saying that this movie is glorious. It was exactly what I needed and when I needed it. I loved every single minute of it. Normally when reviewing a film, I’ll list the parts that worked and the parts that didn’t – Game of Death has no parts that I feel didn’t work. The entire movie titillated me.
The kills in Game of Death are fantastic. Heads were blowing up all over the place. There was one shot from a jogger’s POV as she lay on the ground, begging for her life while siblings Tom (Earle) and Beth (Diamond) calmly discuss which one of them should kill her. When the gun is finally drawn, it’s pointing directly at the camera, putting you in the position of the poor woman. There was also a guy who got hit by a car. It wasn’t so much the car on pedestrian death itself, but more about what Tom says to Tyler (Duenas), who was driving. As the guy starts walking away unscathed, Tom very stoically says, “Hit him. Now back up.”
Not only are the kills themselves intense, Landry and Morais Lagacé didn’t shy away from showing the good stuff. We got an aerial view of the hit and run with the guy torn in two, his intestines the only things linking the two halves of his body together. There were heads (yes, more than one) slowly expanding before bursting like rotten pumpkins in the sun. Not mannequin heads, either – this was all FX and makeup on live actors. After one such decollation in the back of a car, brains, hair and meat all congealed in the person’s lap as the others continued on with their mission. There’s a gunshot wound at the end of the film that tops the entire experience like a juicy cherry on top of this sick, sloppy sundae.
The humor in Game of Death is subtle, but once you realize it’s there, you can’t stop noticing it. Throughout the entire movie, different characters were watching the same Mutual of Omaha-esque documentary on docile, roly-poly manatees. The monotone narrator droned on as bullets flew and baseball bats swung. The one speaking cop in Game of Death was a goofy game warden who liked to sing, especially to her dog, Winston, over the CB radio. There was also the fact that this blood-covered troop of murderers were driving around in a pizza delivery car, complete with a 3D pizza slice sticking out of the top. Since he was on the clock, Tyler the pizza delivery man also happened to be in uniform – a (at one time) bright yellow short with big mushrooms and pepperoni all over it.
The Beautiful People Turn Ugly
When this movie starts, everyone is happy, sexy, funny, beautiful and ready to waste their summer partying and living off of their parents’ money. Almost immediately after they begin playing Game of Death, however, they become disgusting and ugly – both inside and out. Those perfect bikini bodies get slathered in seeping gore that drips and drops off of them in viscous rivulets. Once fun-loving millennials, the remaining members of the group become cold-blooded killers, ready to sacrifice anyone and anything – including their own sanity – in order to beat the game. I also appreciate the fact that most of them had to be turned on to this method of survival. The average citizen doesn’t become a steely-eyed psychopath at the first hint of danger. Nor did they suggest splitting up, which is one of my biggest horror movie pet peeves.
While not overloaded with sex, the bit that shows up in Game of Death is excruciatingly awkward. I could talk about the incest and that would be enough of a kink, but Landry, Morais Lagacé and Kalin-Hadju don’t stop there. The film opens with one of the group jerking off alone in his room, and then continues with brother on sister makeout sessions and over the clothes oral sex that looked way too uncomfortable to even work. But I digress.
The Game Design
Check out the Game of Death itself! It’s like a Ouija board and Hasbro’s Simon had a demented baby, one that ingests the blood of its players to keep track of who’s playing. Unfortunately for our gang, the console itself is indestructible. I can still hear that monotonous, binging tone in my nightmares, like the world’s most evil game of Pong. Combine that with the maniacal voice counting down the kills and the retro arcade smiley face cheering them on, and you have one devil of a game night.
Throughout Game of Death – mostly during the kill scenes – the movie changes over into retro arcade game animations and simple line drawings that imply so much more than anything shown by the actors on screen. There’s even a point where one of the girls says, “Stop acting like we’re in a video game.” The animations are colorful, gory and fast paced, and they fit in perfectly with the theme.
The Fact That Sociopathic Tom Looks So Much Like Michael Pitt’s Paul From Funny Games
The resemblance is uncanny. Is it on purpose? That, I do not know. If it was, it was a brilliant move on the filmmakers. Bravo, fellas!
Game of Death is, by far, my favorite movie from the first half of 2017. I honestly can’t fangirl enough about it. If you get the chance to see this, don’t pass it up. You will seriously regret it.