Indie Watch: Game
The set-up is the most important part of most horror movies. Chances are that films ranging from The Shining to Hostel would merely be random depictions of extreme horror and terror without the careful (with the latter film, I use the term loosely) exposition, character development, and setting. It’s a testament to a horror film’s strength, then, when it foregoes the usual scene-setting and gets right down to its gruesome business. Josh MacDonald’s new short film, Game, seems to take place after the real horror movie has happened – and it’s all the better for it.
Beginning with a young and already-brutalized woman (Andrew Lee Norwood) being chased through the woods by three male assailants (Pasha Ebrahimi, Glen Matthews, and Michael Mcphee), Game immediately let you know that sadistic acts have already taken place. The three men look and act like terrifying inbred hicks born from an unholy union of the respective casts of Deliverance and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and relentlessly pursue the young woman until she reaches the edge of a lake. Once they reach the water, the three deviants realize there’s more to their victim than what’s on the surface.
Referencing everything from the Tobe Hooper’s aforementioned masterpiece to Jaws, Josh MacDonald uses Game to show that a director can do an awful lot when he frees himself from the prison of plot exposition. Without the limitations of consistent character, mood, and setting, MacDonald moves freely within his world and sets up a Cabin in the Woods-esque shop of horrors. It takes a lot of courage to begin a film with the trite image of a woman-in-peril, and even more to completely destroy every expectation the audience would have built from that opening sequence. Game, however, unfolds with a largely dialogue-less panache that would make Joss Whedon blush.
Often when filmmakers parody horror tropes and traditions, it seems like they’re picking on a genre that comes with a pre-packaged self-awareness that makes the activity of spoofing those conventions redundant. That’s why, when alchemical films like Scream or Game come around, you have to applaud the talent and ingenuity that go into making them. When a filmmaker makes you laugh and scream at the same time, you know they’ve written and directed something golden.
Images from Game