Picture this. You’re a young, beautiful millennial just hanging out poolside on a lazy summer afternoon with friends. Fresh out of Bud Light, in need of giving smashing your genitals against someone else’s genital a brief respite lest they bruise from over exertion and having smoked as much as you can smoke in one, what else can you do to fill the endless hours of the day?
If your answers falls somewhere along the lines of “play some dusty board game wedged in a bookshelf that will cause my head to explode unless I go on the kind of murderous rampage that would make Mick & Mallory say ‘Geeze, give it a rest and take a Xanax, why doncha?’” then GAME OF DEATH may be right up your alley. This grisly little shocker from Guerrilla and Rockzeline productions, provides gore hound’s wet dream, and at sixty eight minutes long, it manages to not overstay it’s welcome. It also makes clever use of slasher tropes by blending the victims and killer into a composite character.
The hook of co-director’s Sebastien Landry and Laurence Morais-Legace’s film is each unwitting participant in the game is marked for death if they fail to kill a specific number of people in a twenty four hour period. If too much time elapses in between kills, then the game’s participants are offed one by one. Their deaths are hilarious, as their noggins begin to inflate to giant beach ball proportions before exploding in a gruesome mixture of blood, viscera and brain cells.
While the characters aren’t remarkably deep, GAME OF DEATH does a commendable job depicting the variety of ways a group of modern day twenty somethings might react to discovering they’ve been snookered into becoming serial killers. The bulk of the group reacts with stunned disbelief, or do their best to avoid turning into cold blooded killers. However, a brother and sister duo that share an inclination towards carnal delights similar to that of Jaime and Cersei Lannister take it upon themselves to win the game and keep on breathing. The film wisely decides to not have its characters cheat them game. Rather, it sets up a showdown between the rampaging siblings and their remaining friends that want to stop them rather than take innocent lives. While overall film is about as deep as a kiddie wading pool, it contains a poignant moment where one character howls that he’s an innocent person too when confronted with the argument that the people that need to be killed in order to beat the game don’t deserve their fate.
GAME OF DEATH is precisely the kind of midnight fare that Fantasia does so well, and watching it from behind my laptop screen, I couldn’t help but get wistful over the fact that I’m not able to attend the event in person this summer. Game of Death is the specific sort of raucous, crowd-pleasing genre fare that makes going to film festivals so much damn fun in the first place.