DEATH GAME (2010) – On DVD from 8th July

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DEATH GAME (2010) (aka THE INCITE MILL and Inshite miru: 7-kakan no desu gêmu)
Directed by Hideo Nakata

Ten people, five men and five women, apply for a part-time job which advertises an eye-watering generous wage. When the group arrive at the building, they realise the job is too good to be true as a voice on the tannoy announces that their new employees will take part in a psychological experiment and must live in the building for 7 days under the watchful eye of the CCTV and Guard – a mechanical ceiling robot which patrols the building. An introduction video explains that incidences may occur and should they happen, a ‘detective’ should solve the crime and a vote will be taken to commit the suspected criminal to the building’s jail. The experiment ends in 7 days time or when 2 survivors remain. As the group uneasily settle into their new surroundings, they each start to question one another and when a body turns up the next morning, the game for survival is well and truly on!

Directed by The Ring‘s Hideo Nakata and based on the 2007 novel ‘The Incite Mill’ from author Honobu Yonezawa , DEATH GAME is an intense whodunnit wrapped in a cocoon of Battle Royale meets Big Brother. Like Battle Royale, we meet the characters as they travel en-route to the experiment building, getting to know a bit about them, in particular Yuki (played by Battle Royale star Tatsuya Fujiwara). After their introduction to the programme, the group introduce themselves to one another with tidbits of their lives revealed naturally throughout the experiment. Whilst the initial reaction to the job is enthusiasm for quick and easy money, the atmosphere takes a sinister turn when the experiment organisers suggest deaths could occur within the 7 days of isolation. When one of the group is found dead with gun shot wounds the following morning, the group are eager to point the finger at one another and their act of solidarity unravels as everyone’s a suspect. The storyline is a thrilling concept and the filmmakers invite you to join in as the detective as for most of the deaths, we the viewer are unsure who the culprit is. On edge and determined to find out who’s to blame, the group feel the need to point the finger as soon as possible.


The characters in Death Game are all quite varied in personality. Ando (Kin’ya Kitaôji) is a middle-aged businessman who’s got a kind heart but suffers from alcohol addiction; Fuchi (Nagisa Katahira) is a bored housewife who loves her murder mystery novels; Osako (Tsuyoshi Abe) is a medical student about to pass his exam, but thinks he smarter than everyone in the experiment who he’s fooled into thinking he’s an intern. Not every character is likable and some remain an enigma as they disclose very little about themselves. Throughout the film, you find yourself rooting for certain characters and you begin to question who could be responsible – a bit like playing Cluedo.

The cinematography is clear, steady and calm, giving nothing away before director Hideo Nakata wants you to see it. The cast do an impressive job in their respective roles, with Tatsuya Fujiwara playing our hero Yuki with his honest attitude to the on-going events.

Whilst there’s not too much blood on display, there’s plenty of ingenious deaths to get your horror jaws into and the murder mystery style will have you donning your Hercule Poirot hat and moustache.

Death Game is an engrossing horror thriller that is intelligent about its scares and hits the target bang on. A refreshing change to the usual horror output.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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About Bat 4425 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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