A group of attractive youngsters head to the forest for a weekend getaway in a cabin… Yes, it could be the opening plot line of any number of horror films, not to mention films like this year’s Cabin in the Woods, which satirised the device for all of its clichéd glory. This time, however, it is the beginning of Mine Games, a ludicrous–and occasionally ludicrously entertaining–horror thriller from local director Richard Gray (Summer Coda). Filmed in the same region of America that was home to Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure, this film plays like a long lost sequel to Friday the 13th as an unseen evil stalks the nubile teens in a quasi-labyrinthine möbius strip of revolving ridiculous chills.
All the usual suspects are here: the quiet one who left his medication behind; the sexy one; the drunken goofball; the responsible, yet dependably dopey, one; the one who can tell evil is afoot… Yes, it’s all a bit been there done that, and it’s arguable the film has no right being in a film festival, but, hey, it’s certainly better than misogynistic claptrap like V/H/S! What gets Mine Games over the line is its inherent knowledge of its silliness. Within a minute of the film beginning there is expositional dialogue up the wazoo (example: “Have you taken your pills?” mere seconds after a newspaper headline blasts news of a serial killer) and before long characters are doing everything wrong that you could ever possibly imagine. Considering all the evil activity is centred around a deserted old mine, you’d think they would figure out to stop going back in there! And so on and so on. It can’t be taken all that seriously, surely! There are certainly laughs to be had with Mine Games if you enter it with the right attitude.
The screenplay is pretty much a dog’s breakfast of logic and reason, the cast are all average to below-average–although Briana Evigan (Step Up 2 The Streets) and her raspy voice add some gravitas to certain scenes–and the visuals are perplexing, ranging from scenes filmed with a purple glow to night time sequences looking like a pixellated mess. And yet I had a good enough time with the film, especially at the late night screening I attended, to walk out feeling as if it’s perfect DVD night fodder. The very attractive cast–a big hello to Ethan Peck (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), grandson of Gregory, and Alex Meraz (Twilight: Breaking Dawn) whose eternally tight clothing still doesn’t quite make up for their permanently clothed state–certainly make it easier. It’s all a bit of a laugh, really, but maybe that’s just what I needed after a festival of sour-faced cinema, no matter how good the quality.
Mine Games currently has no local distributor
Director: Richard Gray
Cast: Joseph Cross, Briana Evigan, Julianna Guill, Ethan Peck, Alex Meraz, Rafi Gavron
and Rebecca Da Costa