Fantasia Festival 2017 Review: GAME OF DEATH




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The opening sequence for Sebastien Landry, Laurence Baz Morais’ “Game of Death” fills me with a mixture of dread and nervous excitement, as I subject myself to what appears to be another low budget indie-horror movie. There are only so many of these you can watch until films “so bad that they’re good” actually just become bad, but every now and then you get a real gem. The 70 odd minute running time gives me hope that this is either going to be over quickly, or it will be absolutely relentless.

Seven annoying idiots, each a cliché of the modern Snapchat addicted generation, stumble across this board game and decide to play what you expect to be a bit of harmless fun. Fortunately for us, this is not the case, as they become subjected to a sort of hybrid of Saw, Battle Royale and Jumanji, whereby they must kill at least 24 people, or be picked off one by one themselves. By the board game. Yep. “It will blow your mind!” is the tagline for “Game of Death”, due to method of which the board game decides they must die, by having their heads explode.



No less than 10 minutes in, I’m already sick of these morons, talking absolute drivel to each other, revelling in the sound of their own inane existence. By the grace of all things indie horror, to save us from their tiresome nonsense, the first one’s head explodes. I have never quite seen anything like it, and from here on out, I was immediately hooked. The utter ridiculousness of that scene is enough to please both splatter enthusiasts and gore hunters alike. Cue panic, hysteria, buckets of blood and brains, confusion, more skull explosions, bullets, car crashes, all underpinned by this menacing 8-bit laughing board game, counting down their demise.

It repeats itself for the remainder of the film, exploring the conflict between being killed or killing other innocent people. The running time allows it to get away with this though, as the body count stacks up, we are even treated to a slick animated sequence to get to the conclusion faster. It’s a film that is aware of its limitations, explores the gore and violence in an enthusiastic and (perhaps unintentionally) comedic manner. While the characters do their best to inject any sense of horror into this film, I find that it’s actually the eerie score by Julien Mineau that provides anything unsettling in this movie.

This film will not be for everyone, but it did it for me. You could sit here and pick apart the performances, the predictable nature of the film or just how incredibly over the top it was, but quite often, isn’t accepting and embracing these elements half the fun? I had fun watching this film, that’s all that matters. It made me laugh, wince and cringe as people were brutally eviscerated from my screen, and cleverly, “Game of Death” had made me root for their demise throughout. I haven’t enjoyed a horror film like this for a long time. Utterly ridiculous.

Game Of Death play @ Fantasia Film Festival, 2017

Produced by La Guerrilla (Montreal), Rockzeline (Paris) and Blackpills (Paris)


Words by Mark Blakeway


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