Directed By: Laurence “Baz” Morais and Sebastien Landry
Starring: Sam Earle, Victoria Diamond, and Emelia Hellman
Originally designed as an episodic web series GAME OF DEATH is a film about a group of millennials playing a board game with fairly straight forward instructions, kill or be killed. This isn't the first time a series has been re cut to transition from the small screen to the big. AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, THE TRIP, and (most famously) MUHOLLAND DRIVE all were originally shot as television projects. Considering I enjoyed all those films (its strange) for some reason I held GAME OF DEATH's digital roots against it. I'm glad I got over that prejudice and decided to screen the film because its one of the most surprising films of this years SXSW festival.
A small group of young adults decide to play the titular GAME OF DEATH and soon find out the stakes are much higher than your average game of Monopoly or Twister. It's like a board game version of BATTLE ROYALE, minus the mellow drama. A welcome entry to the young adults killing each other off over the course of 90 minutes sub genre of horror films.
Using animation, cell phone video, film, multiple aspect ratios, and impressive special effects this is an exceedingly competent feature for the first time paring of these two young directors. The film in no way feels like it was intended for a different medium and is cinematic by any measurement.
The film, while current and of our time feels slightly out of step. The synth soundtrack, over the top violence, and black humor make this a great companion piece to TURBO KID. Both films are clearly influenced by and call back to the heyday of VHS horror. Despite its throwback roots this movie has touches of video game violence and boredom that are clearly making comments about youth culture.
If you are comfortable with violence that's on par with SCANNERS and have a dark sense of humor I'd recommend giving GAME OF DEATH a shot.
GAME OF DEATH will have it's digital release two weeks following this years SXSW festival.