Judge Gordon Sullivan thought that this one should be called Deadly Lame.
What's a game if you can't die in it?
Videogames are the bastard children of the cinema world. Successful movies have been made from novels (too many to list), comics (Sin City), even other movies (remakes like The Thing and The Fly), but films based on video games are always on rocky terrain. Videogame players get an even worse rap, generally portrayed as pasty geeks with no social skills. Deadly Game (a.k.a. Complexx) isn't based on a video game, but it hopes to appeal to that crowd by pitting gamers against each other in a real-life game.
In Deadly Game, David Berinni (Mischa van der Klei) has a hit video game which has fans salivating for a sequel. After an awards ceremony where this sequel is previewed, a number of hardcore gamers get invited to participate in a new kind of game. To start, they must get themselves locked into the building which housed the awards. From there, the object is to figure out what the object of the game is. When one of the gamers is killed, it's up to the rest of them to determine if this is part of the game, and if so, how they can win the million euro prize.
Deadly Game is not a particularly good movie. Other films, like Cube and Saw II, mined the fertile territory of trapping strangers in a building where death awaits them. Deadly Game had potential because it added the explicitly videogame-oriented approach. However, any goodwill that this concept might have created is wasted throughout the film. Instead of having these "professional gamers" use the skills they've learned (like how to navigate difficult maps) to any effect, the characters in Deadly Game act like typical slasher victims. The movie becomes just another low-budget slasher mystery, where the same tired sets are recycled in an attempt to create terror.
For the most part, logic goes out the window, as characters alternately trust and distrust each other for no apparent reason while they're picked off one by one. It's very much a "been there, done that" plot, although a twist at the end gives the film some spark. It's not enough to make the film worth watching, but if you've already slogged through the first 70 minutes, waiting the extra three for the ending is worth it.
It's hard to judge the acting in the film, as it happens in Dutch, but everyone seems properly terrified and/or menacing. It's also hard to judge because the script does nothing to introduce the characters. There's an on-screen "profile" when we're introduced to a new character, but all that tells us is their nickname in the game and what game they prefer to play. Judging by these profiles, they're all professional gamers, and they all play the same game. It's really a waste of screen time. With all the different characters, and their haphazard introduction, it can also get a little difficult to tell them apart.
Although the acting is hard to judge, the director's style is not. There's an overabundance of music video clichés, with choppy editing and bizarre filters during flashbacks. The violence is fairly infrequent, but when it's there, it's pretty good. The highlight for me was a woman getting a knife through the top of the skull while she hides in a steel kitchen cabinet. However, there's not enough of the red stuff to make this one relevant for gorehounds. There's also precious little chemistry, let alone nudity, during the film.
The DVD is pretty decent, though unspectacular. The video is pretty sharp throughout, with some pretty strong blacks. The budget shows here and there, but it looks pretty good for an independent horror movie. The Dutch audio is clear and balanced well with the rest of the soundtrack. The extras are limited to a trailer for the film, and some behind the scenes footage. That wouldn't be so bad if the footage included subtitles, but because it doesn't, we get dark video of the movie being made while people talk in Dutch. Not particularly engrossing if you don't speak the language.
This is the kind of movie that will be rented by groups of guys during a bad movie night, and they'll be lured by the bloody controller on the cover. In a group (and with a few beers), Deadly Game might provide some amusement. Anyone looking for a good slasher should look elsewhere.
Deadly Game is guilty of being deadly boring.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
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