War Games

This entry is part 26 of 30 in the series Raindance 2011

Released: 2010
Director: Cosimo Alemà

Starring: Stephanie Chapman-Baker, Sam Cohen, Valene Kane


A nasty and thoroughly objectionable film – to be avoided

No matter how peace-loving and gentle we are as individuals there’s nothing that appeals to our primal instincts like a good bit of violence against our fellow man.  For the vast majority of us a shoot-em-up video game helps to release all of that negative energy.  Occasionally a game of laserquest or paintballing excursion will bring out our inner SAS officer.  But if we’re sensible people then this will be enough.  We pack up our fake weapons and have a Bovril to take the edge off all that excitement.

War Games is an Italian film (albeit in English) about a group of seven friends who play their own paintball tournament in quiet woodland.  The game takes a deadly turn when they encounter three former soldiers who have been indulging in animal killing, but are getting bored of their non-human prey.  The three men hunt down the group who have little method of protecting themselves.

There are so many objectionable aspects to War Games that it’s hard to know where to begin.  The fact that it took me about ten minutes to work out that the film was in English is probably a good place to start.  I was thrown into confusion when the movie began – the subtitles were in Italian, but I only recognised about 5% of the words being spoken.  The majority of the cast mumbled their way through the script as if they were embarrassed by the lines they were being asked to deliver.  In fairness to the actors they probably were ashamed of the dialogue – it was stilted, cliched and laughable.  It was painful to listen to the childish script so I can only imagine how awful it must have been to perform.

There was no character development or attempts to make any of the roles in any way sympathetic.  The entire group of seven paintballers were unbearable and the sight of someone chasing them with a machete was actually quite cheering.  The only character that there was any attempt to flesh out was plucky heroine Lara, a smug NGO employee who is full of angst and constantly worried about her despicable, screaming sister.  Lara was merely annoying and not hateful like the others.  The acting was more wooden than an Ikea showroom,  not one member of the cast brought even an ounce of personality or emotion to their performance – screaming and swearing doesn’t always count as personality.

The director Cosimo Alemà has a background in directing music videos and TV adverts and this comes across.  The action jumps from scene to scene far too quickly and it’s impossible to focus on what is happening at any one time.  The best thing about the film was the use of music and Alemà’s history is put to very good use in this respect.

The most offensive aspect of War Games though was the cruelty to animals.  Nothing shown was terribly explicit but I did get a sense that the film-makers enjoyed depicting the abuse.  I was particularly annoyed by a scene where a chicken was chased around.  It was unnecessary and offered absolutely nothing to the narrative – other than to reinforce the hideousness of the characters.

I read one review of War Games which claimed that it can be easy to “put together a good film with a group of actors and a forest”.  I’m sure that is true – but this is in no respects a good film.

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  1. This is the dumbest review I have ever read. The film makers enjoyed showing violence to animals? I saw this film at Raindance and it didnt have any subtitles? What were you watching? I also had very little difficulty in understanding the dialogue. As far as teen in the woods slashers go, I actually really enjoyed it. I had no problem with the characters, infact I actually had real sympathy for the two sisters and felt that the end scene between them was very powerful.

    • Hi Dave, Thanks for your comment. Glad we were able to disagree in a civil manner….

      I saw a press screener so perhaps that’s why I had subtitles. Glad you were able to understand the dialogue, I think you’re from Essex so perhaps you’re more used to the mangling of the English language than I am.

      Genuinely happy you enjoyed the film though and that you took more from it than I did.

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