No, this is not a remake of the early 1980s John Badham movie, so rest easy!
The war games in the title of this movie are altogether more literal.
So, we have a group of young people (I’m not sure of their ages, everyone between about fifteen and thirty years old looks the same to me) head off for a weekend of paint balling, when they encounter another group of folks who prefer to use real bullets…
Things begin in a way familiar to the horror movie viewer, as we are introduced to our adventurers. There’s the nice one, the rude one, the cynical one, the one who doesn’t want to be there, and so on…
Meanwhile, the Bad Guys are much more fun. How bad are they? Well, when we first meet them, we witness one of them doing something that will leave you in no doubt they are Very Bad Indeed.
Things progress exactly as one would expect them to for a while, but when the first killing comes, it is well done and even though we know it is coming, it still manages to shock.
After that we enter a game of cat and mouse as our team get picked off one by one and, armed only with a pistol with a few bullets and a load of paint balls, they go up against a team of insane gun totting crazies.
And yes, it does sound familiar. We’re firmly in Deliverance/ Southern Comfort territory here, with a dollop of The Hills have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wolf Creek thrown in.
Still, this familiarity helps on the occasions that the narrative steps outside the expected lines and delivers a genuine shock or twist, which it manages to do a number of times.
The cast of unknowns (to me at least) are, for the most part, pretty good and it’s good to see them not being afraid of getting dirty, wet and downright uncomfortable for the part.
The best thing though, and the thing that impressed me about this movie, is the sound design. I suspect it may not be for everyone, but the use of feedback and white noise was very effective in communicating the isolation and desperation of the characters.
All in all, this is an entertaining piece of horror. Yes, we know more or less who is the one who will survive at the end, but as I mentioned earlier, the times where they manage to subvert the genre tropes make this worth watching.
I was going to say that War Games is good fun, but I don’t think that is the word… it’s maybe better to think of it as being like Wolf Creek with all the hope and feel good scenes removed…
War Games is released on DVD by Universal Pictures.