It had been a while since I indulged my passion for low-budget horror films, so when I saw this on Now TV I thought I’d give it a whirl. The blurb said:
“Don’t-go-in-there scares ensue when seven young friends head for a weekend at a remote forest lodge. Coming off the road after a near-miss with a mysterious figure, they make it to their destination on foot. Their driver (Joseph Cross) is shaken, but they all start getting twitchy when they discover an old mine close by… and make the mistake of going in. An unnerving horror mystery designed to keep everyone on edge.”
“Great,” I thought,” a brainless slasher film, perfect” However, what you get is a bit more than that. Mine Games instead takes the cyclical format of films like Timecrimes, Primer and Triangle and applies it to the kids-in-a-cabin trope, and it does it pretty well.
The $1.5million budget does sometimes show (in context, Breaking Bad reportedly cost $3million per episode), particularly with regard to the acting, which is often as B-Movie-tastic as you’d expect, but it has some pretty neat little ideas that elevate it above the crowded low budget horror market. Director/writer Richard Gray has done a good job with the limited budget, and the locations are all well picked, meaning nothing ever looks like it might be a cardboard set.
There are some daft additions to the plot, with one character with psychic powers, and a slightly offensive take on someone with schizophrenia, which do feel unnecessary in a film that deliberately doesn’t offer any reason for what is going on. A strength of the film is, surprisingly, some of the dialogue, with the characters engaging in meta-conversations which recognise not only their own predicament, but also the nature of the genre-movie. One actor who did impress was young Brit Rafi Gavron, who manages to bring some extra depth to the somewhat one dimensional character he had been given.
While it’s not as clever as Primer or Time Crimes, but it does a pretty good job of being something out of the ordinary, and was an entertaining watch, and a perfectly solid Saturday night movie to watch with a pizza and beer.