“Killing Game”: Screams, Maria Bakalova and a pointless finale

It all starts with a close-up of two women exchanging passionate kisses. The drive between them is so strong that the camera refuses to see anything but the eroticism in the atmosphere.

Sensual, casual and extremely detailed, this scene hints that director Halina Rein’s horror film The Killing Game will use Sam Mendes’ cult hit series Euphoria as a starting point. At the outset, one can count more similarities than differences.

In both productions, the story revolves around a group of nihilistic members of Generation Z. In both plots, drugs, confused polygamous sexual relationships and social networks springboard the action. And as it has already become clear, at the center of the whole mess are two homosexual women in the sweet phase of their relationship.

But unlike Euphoria, The Killing Game doesn’t try to paint a rich psychological picture of its characters that somehow justifies their actions. Nothing of the kind.

At the core of the film is only irrational human paranoia, sponsored by too much television and social media, which has destroyed the common sense of the youth.

The perspective is refreshing given the horror genre’s recent attempts to lecture about racial equality and feminism amid mass murder. Although it begins with a homosexual couple, the marginal theme is exhausted only with the naughty episodes between the two main characters.

The relationship begins with the newly in love Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and Bee (Maria Bakalova). The two are on their way to a party at the home of David (Pete Davidson), Sophie’s best friend from school.

In the company are also David’s boyfriend – Emma (Chase Sue Wonders) and two more of Sophie’s old friends – Alice (Rachel Senat) and Jordan (Mahaila Herold), with whom they used to party with vodka and cocaine, until Sophie’s father sends her to a drug addiction clinic.

While Sophie comes out a new person, sober and bound, for the rest of the group, fun isn’t complete without a sea of ​​booze, drugs and silly challenges.

At the very first meeting, two things make a strong impression about this company. First, with the exception of Bee, everyone’s parents are full of money and have spoiled them to the extreme. And secondly, there is quiet tension and envy among friends.

Photo: Alexandra Films

At first, some of them are not happy that Sophie just showed up at David’s mansion without writing in their group chat. The shy and shy Bea, who answers “Yes” and “No” to personal questions, is also not to their liking.

But after a few shots and lines of cocaine, the characters cheer up and seemingly mend their relationship.

When everyone seems to have forgotten about the malice eating away at them, Sophie suggests they play Bodies Bodies Bodies (the original name of the film). The rules are simple. Everyone draws slips of paper, one of them says “murderer”, the lights go out, the “murderer” touches a person from the company, the latter pretends to be dead, and the rest try to unravel the mystery and get to the “culprit”.

But in the middle of the game, one of the friends really dies, and the others are convinced that one of them is using Bodies Bodies Bodies for revenge.

Written by Sarah DeLapp, who based the story on the short story Cat Person by Christina Roupenian, Killing Game uses the seemingly banal composition of entertainment turned into a cover for murder. But as it develops, the plot takes a direction that viewers of this type of film are not used to.

In addition to the trap of the deadly game, the script does not miss the fact that it is still about characters in whose value system social networks stand highest. And, of course, the characters, even without a murder that explodes in the middle of the scene, don’t trust each other enough.

Sophie, Bea, David, Alice, Emma and Jordan’s relationships are based on their presence online. They like to appear rich, liberated, united, and the fact that they are aware of how their happiness on TikTok and Instagram is a well-directed illusion makes them even more suspicious of each other.

Moving along these lines, Halina Rein ramps up the satire for today’s generation and questions their perceptions of reality from the start. Can you trust a generation that is so adept at manipulating the truth?

Photo: Alexandra Films

With this nuance up its sleeve, The Killing Game goes beyond horror. It’s actually more crime mystery than horror, because outside of the claustrophobic setting of the cinematography, fear isn’t the primary emotion. The driving force here is the question “Why?”, and the ingenious thing about the film is that the director chose to give it the most nonsensical and incomplete answer possible.

Normally this would be a big miss, but when the action is instigated by a group of painfully narcissistic youths with no logical thinking skills, everything falls into place.

The concept could have been played out better if there was more chemistry between the cast, because both between the homosexual features of Maria Bakalova and Amandla Stenberg, and in the communication between the other actors, there is more coldness and distance than red-hot feelings.

But even in this version, “Killing Game” gives a consistent and regular development of events for people who have become attached to the screens in front of them.

It’s worth watching the movie, if only to tell yourself that you need to cut back on cinema and TV for a while.

“Killing Game” opens in theaters on August 12.


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