Also Known As
Jigsaw: Death Trap

Directed By Robert Arthur Jansen
Netherlands/2007 – 80 Minutes/Widescreen
DVD Provided byCinema Epoc
Article written by Craig Hamann

The entire world is getting taken over by computer technology. It is forecasted that we will watch movies, watch television, listen to music, do all our shopping, and communicate with each other on our computers. There will be little reason to leave our homes because everything will be done electronically. This comes as no surprise since we’re already pretty much slaves to our home computers now. But what about gaming? What is the next step there? Writer/director Robert Arthur Jansen tries to answer that question in his thriller DEADLY GAME.

During a massive gaming convention, several of the gamers receive text messages telling them to hide in the building until after it’s closed. At that point they will engage in a new game where the winner gets one million euros. The gamers do as instructed and wait until the security guards have locked the place up for the night before they emerge from their hiding places. Unfortunately, they realize that they are now trapped inside the building and can’t escape. Worse yet, a killer is inside the building with them and is slicing the gamers down one by one This game is for real and is all about survival. Only one person can win. The losers will all die.

While there are definitely some thoughts offered regarding the addictive nature of gaming and its psychological grip on its players, DEADLY GAME works mostly as a thriller. It starts out looking like it’s going to be a giallo, but then changes into a teen slasher flick, and then reverts back to giallo territory by providing a twist at the end. This kind of schizophrenic approach to story telling can be confusing in most films, but here it’s effective because the plot often resorts to game logic, where players must weave through a series of tasks before accomplishing the final goal. This is a clever approach by filmmaker Jansen and it oftentimes conceals the truth, which is that this SOV release actually follows the formulaic pattern of good looking young people being pursued by a madman with a big knife.

There is little character development in the script and that does dampen the tension at times. Because the characters are mostly cardboard cutouts, it’s difficult for the audience to identify with them. We don’t really know their individual needs and problems, and we’re given no special reasons to care for any of them, aside from the fact that they are all in imminent danger from some whacko with a blade. Most annoying, though, is that too often the screenplay calls for the characters to do illogical things for the sole purpose of increasing the boo factor. Sometimes it works and the tension does heighten, but other times I want to reach through the screen and bitch-slap some sense into the potential victims. Stupid is stupid, regardless the circumstances. That said, the acting is pretty darn good, with the two leads, Sander Foppele as Mike and beautiful Kirsten Walraad as Myrna, both providing engaging performances.

I wish I could detail my feelings about the ending, but I’m not sure that’s possible without providing spoilers. Part of the ending is predictable and I believe most genre fans will see it coming by the time the middle of the second act rolls around. There is also a bit of a letdown in the ending, which I can’t describe without giving too much away, but at least the final twist is enjoyable. Not only are the characters in the movie being played in the game, but here the viewers are being duped as well. That’s cool, but it seems to me that a surprise ending never should be used to explain away things. It should be a progression in the plot rather than a smokescreen covering up possible holes in the story. Again, I wish I could say more, but it’s just not possible without using spoilers.

Cinema Epoch provides a decent transfer with clear picture and sound. This is a foreign language picture that thankfully has easy to read subtitles that don’t interfere with the action on the screen. Special features include a trailer, a behind-the-scenes clip, and teasers for other releases. The production quality of the movie is good. Jansen’s direction is crisp, the cinematography provides the right amount of creepiness, and the editing keeps things moving along. It’s too bad the screenplay wasn’t fleshed out a bit more, but it still contains a great deal of suspense and is an entertaining movie that keeps the audience guessing. As a result, I encourage genre fans to take a look at DEADLY GAME.