Everyone loves entertainment. From watching movies and listening to music, all the way to playing video games, everyone has a hobby that they can take some time off to relax to. But what if this concept is turned into a sick and twisted game of its own? This is the reality of the world of Level Up, a debut film directed by Adam Randall. Starring Josh Bowman as Matt, we’re shown to just what extremes people are willing to go for their loved ones when faced with a mysterious and dangerous threat.
After being introduced to couple Matt and Anna, Anna one day disappears. Matt is attacked by a gang and is told that he must follow all instructions he is given by phone, or Anna will die just before getting knocked out. Once he awakes, he finds a mysterious package attached to his chest and is instructed to deliver it across the city, or else Anna will be killed, all while being attacked by other mysterious people. Throughout the film, he is given seemingly random tasks that become more and more dangerous.
Throughout the movie, the plot seems confusing and completely random; nothing really makes any sense. The film delves deeper towards the third act, giving viewers a sense of how people can do horrible things for the sake of themselves and those they love. But is there a reason Matt is being pushed to his limits with these insane tasks, and why he’s being coerced to cross such dark lines? The final 20 minutes reveal the true nature of the twisted game, giving the answers viewers wait for, all while leaving you wondering if these kind of things can actually happen. Level Up begs the question of what can really be done in a world connected to so much entertainment and being entertained, even when it’s at the expense of others.
The cinematography is something unique, especially for a indie movie such as this. There are some very beautiful shots here, feeling mesmerized even during moments when action and suspense are on the screen. It has a dreamlike quality in some moments that only adds to whether or not this is all real. Accompanied by a synth soundtrack, it evokes an action/terror vibe that adds to every scene when it plays, going hand in hand with what you see on the screen. Besides the mystery and seemingly randomness of the film, which could be seen as a detriment, the only true negative here is the ending itself. The actual resolution to Matt’s dilemma comes off a little sudden and out of nowhere, with the final seconds teasing to something bigger that could come from the mystery, but leaves it as is.
Level Up is a film that has an impressive quality put into it for an indie and the love and care really shows. For a debut film, Randall really knocks it out of the park here and we can all look forward to any future work from him. The actors give it their all, the suspense never stops, and how far a man can pushed to his limits is the name of a game- and it plays well. The web of mystery snowballs into a strong climax with a good, but lacking ending, leaving you with an idea akin to The Purge, where the story can pick off with these or entirely new characters. While not a perfect film, it supersedes expectation at every turn and deals with dark themes in a original way with it’s own brand of quirky humor and intense scenes surrounding a genuinely dark mystery. If looking for a genre bending movie that’s part action, comedy and thriller, look no further and scratch that itch. Watch Level Up now.
4 out of 5 Zombie Heads