13 DEMONS

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

With the resurgence of board games and role-playing games in the mainstream (they’ve never gone away in geekdom), indie auteur Daniel Falicki’s latest takes the public perception of such gamers to the most extreme level.

Three friends spend most of their time getting stoned and playing various games - board and video - taking the pastime very seriously indeed, so when one of them buys a vintage copy of a legendary ‘banned’ game, they just have to play it. The game, 13 Daemons, was taken off sale when players were accused of murder. It seems they believed themselves to be really within the realm created by the board and were genuine warriors against the evil demons. So, ignoring the bad smell that comes from the box when it’s opened, the trio begin to play. They soon become engrossed with the game mechanics and fully invested in the characters they are portraying. So much so that people start turning up dead in neighbouring streets…

Movies based around gamers taking their pursuits a little too far are not new - neither is the real-life ‘moral outrage’ surrounding such products. From Dungeons & Dragons to the truly controversial F.A.T.A.L. (which was not only offensive to most minorities, it practically glorified rape), role-playing games have given filmmakers carte blanche to depict players in the most caricatured manner. Falicki, however, doesn’t mock or degrade the players here. Sure, they have the usual quirks that would probably leave them open to mockery to the general public, but for the film’s sake, they are not losers or oddballs just really into their gaming. As the game begins to consume their minds and starts to control their actions, it’s more akin to a mental illness than mere fanatic behaviour -almost in the same way as in the 1982 Tom Hanks flick Mazes and Monsters - the big difference here, however, is the film is almost entirely set in one squalid room. The rare occasions we leave the room, namely in the prologue in which two of the friends are beginning to be interviewed by the police while still covered in blood and the psychedelic-type slaying scenes (which look as if a whole range of After Effects filters were used), actually make the board game scenes feel more intense and involving.

If you’re a non-gamer (as this reviewer is), the dialogue during the scenes of play is as baffling as ancient Greek but those who love RPGs may get a kick out of hearing some of the details of the ‘quests’ and the attention to detail to the mythology created for the game. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable for the layman. It’s an absorbing (if fantastical) look into a certain psyche. Those looking for a Game of Thrones-type actioner should look elsewhere, but - like Falicki’s other films - there’s plenty to enjoy if you’re willing to accept the limitations of the budget.

13 DEMONS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DANIEL FALICKI / STARRING: MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM, STEPHEN GREY, JACKSON EZINGA, DANIEL FALICKI, PATRICK HENDREN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US)

 


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