Game of Death [Review]

Move over, Monopoly, because there’s a new game on the market and people are just dying to play it. Cheesy, I know, but sometimes, cheesy is good. When over-the-top cheesiness and gore make a film entertaining, then you know you’re watching “Game of Death” which made its Canadian premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.

Seven teenagers are partying hard in the summer sun like only teenagers know how. In the midst of their non-catholic behaviors, one of them stumbles across a seemingly old board game: Game of Death. Of course, the teens decide to play the game, unsure what the rules, but more importantly, the consequences, entail. As soon as they each press a finger, simultaneously, onto skulls that surround the game’s board, their fingers are instantly pricked and blood is drawn to the center of the platform. Confused and upset, yet careless, they decide to resume their partying ways. They seem to have taken lightly the warning of “kill or be killed” from the game’s brief rules. When heads begin to unexpectedly explode right off their shoulders, they go back to review the guidelines, shocked and panicked, and realize that 24 people need to die, within a certain time limit, or that ghastly fate will be theirs to suffer, one by one. Let the bodies hit the floor!

This Quebec-made horror-comedy was directed by Sebastien Landry and Laurence Morais-Lagace, who also co-wrote it. With the incredible make-up FX from Quebec special effects legend, Remy Couture, and the unreal special effects from the Blood Brothers, they went all out etc. The practical effects are absolutely stunning and deserve to be seen over and over again; especially when the swelling of the craniums begin. Bursting heads, spilling guts, gruesome shot wounds, and much more are on the menu.

The scenario has a lot of oddities involved within it, including an incestuous brother-sister relationship and a retro-psychedelic love/killing segment that’ll have you reclining your head in awe and amusement at once. The characters also have numerous stereotypes from teenager-related horror movies (jock douchebag (who just got freshly tattooed on his chest, on top of that), slutty girls, the nerd, the drug dealer), in addition to that peculiar sister and odd brother, I told you about. Also, being only 74 minutes long, you know that the storyline and the killing have to get started rapidly, and they do. Everybody loves to watch obnoxious teens dying.

It is not a cinematographic masterpiece that will go down in history and be nominated at the Oscars; and that certainly didn’t seem like the filmmakers’ goal. It is a movie made by over-the-top, gruesome gore, horror fans, for over-the-top, gruesome gore, horror fans. If you go into this with that expectation, then you will not be disappointed. So sit down, relax (or not), place your thumb on the skull, and get ready to play the “Game of Death”, deserving 4 stars out of 5.

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