Game of Death
Sam Earle, Victoria Diamond, Emelia Hellman, Catherine Saindon, Nick Serino
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
A short, nasty little bit of brutal business.
From its pixel art opening credits to its gore-spattered final moments, Game of Death is a film that demands your attention even if it doesn’t always deserve it.
The story opens with a seven pasty, horny young people getting high, listening to music and popping off to root in the back rooms of a sprawling house. One of the doomed teens discovers a board game called Game of Death, resting atop an ancient Nintendo Entertainment System, and suggests the group play it. Naturally this is an idea so bad it could become CEO of Bad Ideas Incorporated.
The rules of the game are simple: our “heroes” must kill 24 people in order to survive. If they refuse? Their heads will explode, one by one. This kill or be killed premise is familiar but can be effective in the right hands, however Game of Death seems more concerned with the mechanics of detonating craniums than loftier questions of morality. Tone-wise it veers between Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever and a Troma film, but never really fully commits to either nihilism or lunacy.
That said, the film’s certainly stylish. There’s some It Follows-style festishisation of outdated technology and Spring Breakers-esque long, lingering pans across nubile flesh. Later in the piece we’re treated to actual game footage from Carmageddon and a delightfully bent animated sequence set in an old people’s home.
Ultimately Game of Death is a short, nasty little bit of brutal business with some sweet scenes of carnage and a few jet-black chuckles. It’s unlikely to leave a lingering impression but remains mostly effective, especially for a late-night audience of like-minded sociopaths.