SXSW 2017 Review: Game Of Death – Taking it Back

There is a history to the title Game of Death. It was Bruce Lee’s dream project but after his death it got warped. There was a straight to video Wesley Snipes vehicle called Game of Death. In a way Game of Death is taking it back, literally creating a game of death so there can be no question.

This is not the first time I’ve called a movie a Horror Jumanji. I think it’s natural evolution. Jumanji could kill you but pretended it was all in good fun. Here the game makes you kill a friend  until last person stands. And you can’t opt out or the game will kill someone anyway.

The kills are gloriously excessive with blood splatter. There are Lot of exploding heads but They don’t run out of unique ways to kill. In fact they exhaust a simple gunshot early so they only get more clever.

There’s macabre humor as gory kills don’t cause instant death, and the game requires them to finish the job. An elaborate made up Pizza Hut theme song is absurdly funny too. Of course you don’t see all 24 but they have a clever way of montaging through a bunch to get to the last ones.

Game of Death is one of the best shot indie movies at SXSW and it’s a web series. There’s vertical video and teens talking dirty  but it looks like a movie. The characters are immature but the style is not. It frames them right, it reveals things visually, it’s elegant towards base things like sex and violence. A first person shot is basic but effective for not trying to be too gimmicky. It’s appropriate for the scene.

The women in particular look badass covered in blood toting guns. Perhaps it was a misdirect dressing two of them in bikinis as exploitation, but the blood becomes their costume.

As a web series Game of Death will be a movie serial. As a single film the pace ramps up as soon as the game starts and maintains it. You really don’t know which of the friends will make it through the game. Directors Sebastien Landry and Laurence Morias-Lagace are ones to watch.

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