Certainly attempting to capitalize on the grindhouse feel, Game of Death, the new film from the Montreal team of Sebastien Landry and Laurence Morais-Legace, offers plenty of splattery thrills and old-school style bloodshed in this quick and zippy effort. Coming together from the multinational production companies La Guerrilla from Montreal, Rockzeline and Blackpills, both located in Paris, the effort is quickly heading through the festival circuit, including the prestigious Fantasia International Film Festival.
Trying to enjoy the good life, a group of friends Tom, (Sam Earle, from “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) Beth, (Victoria Diamond, from “The Demons”) Ashley (Emelia Hellman, from “Bellevue”) Mary-Ann (Catherine Saindon, from “Say Goodbye”) Tyler (Erniel Baez D, from “19-2”) and Kenny (Nick Serino, from “Sleeping Giant”) decide to pass the time by playing a game a friend left behind known as The Game of Death. Finding out that they’re now forced to kill a specified amount of civilians before a timer runs out or find themselves killed off in gruesome fashion, they head out to start the quest for completing the game only to find some are better equipped to dealing with the situation and others aren’t and they must deal with the rapidly escalating situation before the timer runs out.
Right from the get-go, this one starts off with the kind of effort it really wants to be: the lifestyle montage of the friends hanging out together, drinking, doing drugs and trying to simply get by before immediately launching into the game. This is quite fun as the concept of the game, being on a timer and forcing it to occur whether they like it or not really makes this one work well here, for that brings along a lot of rather fun action scenes as the consequences of the game. The fear of knowing that the game is willing them to commit murder provides a nice sense of suspense as to when the clock is coming up and their next target needs to be taken out; and the need for a hospital massacre really provides this with some nice bits as well.
On the whole, there’s still plenty to go on here that makes it a lot of fun beyond that. The multitude of gunshot-wounds makes for a fun time overall, as there’s a swarm of bloodshed throughout here, and the scenes of them mutilating the corpses in order to fulfill their curse gives this one some really extreme action. From the roadside ambush that knocks off several victims at once where the game really gets going, to the different random scenes of them going around town trying to whittle the numbers down and ending up at the big action-packed rampage in the hospital where it really ramps up the bloodshed, this one works on delivering a twisted sense of black humor in the absurdity of the situation, while delivering some solid gore effects as well. These keep the film moving along rather nicely and don’t really provide all that much of a down-period overall.
While Game of Death attempts to address some significant issues about how far people will go in order to question their own humanity, ultimately the film fails remarkably in that aspect. In regards to how easy it is for them to buy into the concept of the game, there’s nothing special; the film doesn’t do anything with this golden material as it just goes on with little regard to the commentary this had set up. Mainly by going all-in on the concept of the killing rather than debating what will happen to the group as they carry out their rampage, it doesn’t provide the kind of needed social commentary the film is trying for with this storyline, as the characters don’t have the necessary weight to get this one done. Being annoying millennials who don’t have any real connection here undoes the message about violence it’s trying to convey. However, this doesn’t prevent the film from being really fun, as the positives are a lot more impactful.
Game of Death is screening starting July 15th at the Fantasia International Film Festival.
3/5 Zombie Heads