The stone angels which decorate the elegant lawns of the cemetery pray for the dead, but it brings little comfort to the former students of Grace Arbor High School, not that they apparently need much. Reunited for Jimmy’s funeral, tortured and killed by drug dealers to whom he was in debt, these are not nice people.
Back in the day it was Jimmy who was the prankster but they all participated in his games and they could be unthinkingly vicious, treating others like objects, their current indifference towards their departed classmate marked in the language they use towards each other and anyone with whom they interact: casual racism, homophobia and misogyny.
But Sheriff Blake (Tommy Beardmore) is keeping something from the others: tortured and set on fire, Jimmy’s death was no gangland hit, and soon the rest of them will each be targeted in different ways, small reminders of the events of three years previously, the incident at Sandy Beach in which they were all involved and which they conspired to cover up as a tragic accident.
With little attempt made to introduce or differentiate the characters, the indication is that within a short space of time they’ll be pretty much interchangeable victims, so accustomed to cruelty that they blame their victims for not having a sense of humour without ever questioning their own actions and the consequences upon those they bullied.
A bargain sub-basement I Barely Care What You Did Three Summers Back, an already-been-seen-Saw, the theme of “let the punishment fit the crime” having been done with more flair four decades previously in Theatre of Blood, there is nothing in the whole of Kill Game to recommend it, the camera panning so slowly across the tedious slaughter of the not-so-innocents it’s as though the operator suffers from motion sickness.
Boasting terrible prosthetics and laughable back projection during the car rides, even the killings are dull (wasn’t “she died during a routine liposuction” a joke in Clueless?) and the threats fail to be threatening: what kind of person sends a message by having pizza delivered?
The existential angst of the idle rich with their designer clothes, expensive cars and unfeasible shoes, is it to be intuited that they are so bourgeois that the mere presence of a humble dish such as pizza is insulting to them? Certainly Nathan (The Maze Runner‘s Joe Adler) has no such qualms, cautiously yet unquestioningly accepting the company of the rent boy anonymously sent to his door.
The debut feature of director by Robert Mearns, the sharpness of the digital picture doesn’t lend itself to any semblance of atmosphere, with endless ham-fisted soft-focused flashbacks to “that day on the beach” and acting which varies between a cold read through and the dreariest daytime soap (bad tempered pretty boy Pierson Fode spent a season on The Bold and the Beautiful), even the better performances coming across as artificial and contrived.
With the greatest achievement of the cast being their ability to deliver lines without openly laughing (“The guilt of killing your parents eats away at your aspirations and dreams!”), there is a marked difference between the bland physical perfection of the leads and the heavy-eyebrowed dumpiness of the flannel-clad extras.
Reminding of Society but without the ironic awareness which justified the division, make no mistake, these beautiful people are empty vessels in an echo chamber, and if the intention was for there to be meaning, purpose or a satirical edge, it has been utterly lost in the ineptitude of Mearn’s translation of his own feeble script.