Horror, Cult Movies, Exploitation Cinema, 70s Schlock, and more! Let’s start the weekend off by getting freaky! Or something like that…
Genre: “How did I get here?” Countdown Horror
Year Released: 2018
411: A Gravitas Ventures joint. So adjust your expectations. Or, if you’re like me, get stoked.
Where I Watched: Vudu Free-With-Ads
Synopsis: Jackie has a date with a good-looking rich guy. California jackpot! So when he asked her if she wants to go meet some of his friends, it’s a no-brainer for Jackie. Unfortunately, a whole lot of other folks were tricked into coming to this party by a pretty person. And when the invitees wake up the next morning? They all have cameras surgically attached to their foreheads, and are told only one survivor can escape. Uh, party.
Fabulous or Frustrating?: Throw Saw, Battle Royale, and Squid Game into a blender, hit frappe, and you’ve got Headgame. Yeah, the Final Girl is telegraphed from the jump, and we all know how things will pan out for the group of gamers forced into this “entertainment”. But watching how the characters go from disbelief to bloodthirsty – or how they try to hold on to their humanity – is the draw here. Who’s first to draw blood, and who’s first to drop? And, of course, that ticklish feeling in the back of your brain that’s hinting you’re no better than the characters that are watching everything go down on the game floor. While Headgame isn’t as deep as the other film’s I mentioned above, it is a fun way to pass an hour and a half. Well, ’til the film forgets its own story and flails around til they run out of film. Meh, whattaya gonna do?
This film is perfect to play “How I’d Survive”, as several of the poor saps players make decisions that are detrimental to continuing their heartbeats. For me? As soon as the toast – “To a night you won’t remember and the day you can’t forget”? I would have been pretending to take a sip, I don’t know these people this stuff must be drugged up. But our characters? Kampai, bitches! Then again, I can be a buzzkill when it comes to trusting random drinks shoved into my hand at a party where I’m the only one I know. That’s just how I’m made, I guess. Sick makeup FX on the partygoers that have cameras attached to their foreheads, though. Actually, the FX in general are pretty darn good, from acid-eaten faces to puncture wounds and more. Bravo to the crews who handled that. The cinematography and art direction are low budget dark-noir Saw franchise, which works well here. I bought that this game was set up by people used to setting up and breaking down these games in a hurry. This is where low budget filmmaking can really excel, and the creators make the most of that dilapidated building and “found” maze.
Thumbs down to whoever green-lit that mess of an ending, though. Screenwriter Roberto Mannas does an excellent job building tension, even when things cut from the players to the bettors a bit too often. But when the game ends? The movie still has over twenty minutes to go. What’s gonna happen? Revenge, maybe. Kinda. Then maybe not. But still kinda. Perhaps. Heck, the Final Girl knows I guess, but hell if I do. Maybe they didn’t want that last survivor walking out into the bright sun as the final shot. I get it; it’s way too much like the end of Cube. But plodding along toward a lackluster “cliffhanger” had me checking the film’s run-time a few times, hoping things would wrap up. I should be stoked for a bit of Final Girl revenge story, but instead? It just keeps going into new side-quests, even introducing a new character at the eleventh hour that should have been featured earlier, or omitted altogether.
Meh. You can just end your watch when the Final Girl leaves the game, and have yourself an enjoyable watch. If you continue, you’ll be sucked into another story that’s nowhere near as interesting as the creators seem to think it is.
Freak-O-Meter: 2.5 out of 5 Freaks. Good beginning and middle, muddled end.