These are the last people you would want to be stuck in a horror movie with – it makes for a great flick.
The appropriately named Game of Death is only as literal as its victims. Ensnaring a gaggle of very adult-looking teenagers who, for the stand-alone reason that their more R-rated proclivities eventually got boring, decide to play a game that promises to kill you.
Loudly declaring exactly what is happening or otherwise what is about to transpire, the group’s largely unhelpful forewarnings and nonsensical responses as their companions start dying, in glorious, explosion-filled fashion, adeptly walks the very loud line between schlock-horror and hilariously morbid self-parody.
Not the sort of mindless bodies-in-waiting you’d ever choose to defeat a demonic presence or any indiscriminate killing-machine, Game of Death is all the better for skirting the logical fallacies that would typically arise in even the more thought-out horror-rampages by virtue of each member of the ill-fated troupe lacking in some essential vestige of basic logic, leading to barely conceivable yet frequently enjoyable confrontations.
When the victims eventually become aggressors the film then turns on its best beats, with the emanations of random carnage typically reserved for off-camera shocks here on full display for viewers whenever our nonplussed teenagers decide to take their fate into their own hands. Relying on a wealth of horror lore and trusted tropes to drive so much of the action where the crew are forced to face a fairly inventive kill or be killed scenario, there is at least one convention that keen-eyed horror fans will appreciate gets completely turned on its head.
Randomly impressing the film with different styles and motifs, a none-too-common opening titles sequence and brief venture into 90’s arcade-style action manage to stand-out even if the creative motifs are regretfully all too brief, while a later scene between a couple featuring an abruptly low-key interlude could have been cut entirely.
A fun night for the very self-aware treatment of its not always sympathetic victims-to-be, Game of Death is a B-movie that delivers exactly what it promises.
Game of Death is screening at the Sydney Film Festival, for tickets head to the Festival website