A Review by Robert Long II ©2010
Tagline: Wanna Play?
Released by Warner Home Video
Written by Robert Harari and Jason Contino
Produced by 500 Pieces Films
Directed by Robert Harari
Starring: Steve Polites, Katie Sirk , Samuel Klein, Ariana Almajan, Vince Eustace, Max Hambleton, Christina Marchand, Julia Pickens, Erik Soulliard, Jay R. Stine III
IMDb Synopsis: A group of teenagers invent a game in which one of them is secretly chosen to be a “killer,” while the others remain innocent victims. Armed with prop weapons, the “killer” must eliminate the other players before being found out. To enhance their experience, the teens sneak into a large self-storage warehouse during its closed, late-night hours to hold their game. At first, it’s better than ever. But, things take a horrific turn as one by one, the players begin dying… for real.
In the late 1970s to the early 1980s I used to play a live role game called KILLER – which was more or less the game that is represented here. Other movies such as T.A.G. and GOTCHA! were also based around this premise. What it all boils down to is a group of friends have a set amount of time to sneak around and “assassinate” their competition in creative ways. Thus this is pretty much the story for THE MURDER GAME. A group of teenagers break into a self-storage warehouse for an all night gaming session of knocking each other off. The problem is that at some point during the evening, the kids start dying for real. Is there an intruder in the storage building with them, or is one of their own doing the slashing?
Acting-wise, no one embarrasses themselves (although I found Jay R. Stine III’s performance to be too over the top). The standouts to me were actors Steve Polites and Samuel Klein. The tragedy of it all is that this being a body count movie, some of the characters end up under-developed and are simply there as cannon fodder. Production-wise the cast and crew make the most of their main location – the storage building. What could have been a mundane set is turned into an effective maze of creepy corridors. The camera work and the lighting hit the mark most of the time and help to move the story along. The gore makeup is well done and very effective.
If I have any criticisms it would be in the area of the humor displayed on the screen. There are one or two times when characters literally break the fourth wall with the audience, which took me out of the movie. And once or twice the humor comes too close to a shock that has happened, and diffused the tension that was built. Plus while it has a sex scene, the nudity is on screen for less than half a second, so one wonders why they bothered including it.
The extras on this DVD include a cast and crew commentary, a behind-the-scenes making of featurette, an outtake reel, deleted scenes, trailers, and a short film called “The Puzzle.” The commentary is fun, if a bit confusing. I think there are around seven people commenting during the run time, so it does get a little muddled and hard to tell who is who (except for Katie Sirk). Watching the deleted scenes was frustrating; personally I don’t feel they would have hurt the run time, and actually gave a little bit more development for a few characters – so it is a shame they didn’t make the final cut. The short film “The Puzzle” is a treat. I believe this might have been a college film project. The plot is of a young woman that receives a strange jigsaw puzzle one evening. She proceeds to put it together – with disturbing results.
The Bottom Line: I give this movie 7 out of 10 hide-and-go-seek players. While not perfect, it is entertaining, and is a great first attempt for the budding filmmakers. The opening credit sequence is incredibly well done, and it is no small wonder why Warner Bros. picked this title up. If your dish is slashers I recommend you buy it, or at least give it a rental.
Want to buy it? Click on the DVD cover above!