Bachelor Games (2016)

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Directed by Edward McGown

Earlier this year my twin brother got engaged and wisely appointed me as the best man. This means, after they have the hefty cost of a wedding saved up, I’ll have the joys of organising his stag do. But where to go? Where once these nights were long sessions at the pub, perhaps after a steak, they’ve now turned into long weekend affairs in far-away lands. In Edward McGown’s latest film (the first not for TV) the location is the beautifully shot mountains of Argentina.

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Here the husband to be is Henry (Gordon) who sets off with his sleazy party planner Leon (Bewley). Accompanying them are loudmouth Terrance (Doolan), down on his luck Roy (Noble) and military man Max (Abili, who is the only weak actor out of them). At first it’s the usual lads on tour shenanigans – lots of drinking, cheeky ‘bants’ and other assorted debauchery (note it’s never quite clear how much McGown is satirising his subjects or indulging them here). But with the arrival of a scary old man things take a turn for the dark as they learn of a local legend called The Hunter. The next day they go on a hike through the hills, which nobody particularly wants to do. But things go from bad to worse following the disappearance of one of their group members. A few competent twists and turns later and they’re all in a fight for their lives. Oh to be back in the pub with another pint of Carlsberg!

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Despite how workmanlike the premise sounds, something that really separates Bachelor Games from other movies like it is the thought that goes into making the set of characters function as a group. While they have enough chemistry together to make the early scenes of drunks drinking surprisingly enjoyable, there are also some refreshingly dramatic moments scattered throughout. Old tensions surface and the group confide or backstab in equal measure against the backdrop of a slasher. A real credit to the script is that even in the last act, when the bodies start to pile up, it never loses sight of its characters. This means the emotional story rarely plays second fiddle to genre trappings. Admittedly the early scenes are more played largely for laughs, yet there’s nothing in them that wouldn’t realistically be said by the loaded generation after a few drinks. Also, as per horror classic The Hills Have Eyes, this trip to the desert makes an attempt at social commentary. And although here it is definitely less in-depth, it definitely adds a layer to it that is absent from other films like it. The dynamic with the monster is quite novel too, with their fight requiring them to face up to the bad bits of themselves first.

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It’s just a shame said monster is so feeble. I mean really feeble. The costume looks weak, their motive is sketchy and overall they’re devoid of charisma. As such, whilst the movie does a commendable job of establishing personal stakes the tension remains minimal throughout. This is really not helped by the cinematography that chooses to continuously emphasise the vastness of the lands at the expense of its baddy’s form. Consequently the film fails to make the foe seem fearsome. Worse yet, a frustratingly unlikely switch in the plot offers the makers two opportunities to escalate the threat. However, this only goes to highlight their ineptitude for a second time.

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This is unfortunate, as it could have been something memorable: The Inbetweeners by way of Wes Craven. But instead, like the pissed nights abroad, it’ll end up being largely forgotten in the haze of a new day. Only this time you won’t be able to tell yourself it was probably amazing.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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About david.s.smith 450 Articles
Scottish horror fan who is simultaneously elitist and hates genre snobbery. Follow me on @horrorinatweet

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