Three people, with nothing in common other than attending a weekly group therapy session, have met up in a dark room. Dean (Baldwin) is confined to a wheelchair, Richard (Haza) a despairing alcoholic, and Sunny (Lukowski) is an angry Christian; one thing they all have in common is a will to kill themselves. They are playing a twisted version of Russian Roulette with a bottle of whiskey. It’s not long before Dean suggests upping the stakes and introduces a gun to play for real. Initially, the others are terrified, but after Dean’s goading, they agree to play, while we find out what has driven them to this state. What problems have they faced to want to end it all, and why do they feel like they have been drawn to each other and the situation?
It’s difficult to discuss Roulette without too many spoilers. That said, the three separate tales that make up the whole are each as strong and shocking as each other, and the way the audience is drip-fed information adds perfectly to the tension and allows one to truly get to know the characters and their flaws. Although it’s an approach that has been used before (we’d say Pulp Fiction, but that might give the wrong impression as Roulette is certainly not attempting to emulate Tarantino’s style), the way writer/director Myers handles his film is amazingly refreshing and confident for an inaugural feature director.
As a viewer, one runs a gauntlet of emotions while the stories unfold. Although we can be expected to feel sympathy for some of the situations the characters find themselves in, we quite often we feel the opposite - it’s difficult to find something to like about them. Suicidal tendencies are a sign of mental illness, something we should be compassionate about, but we can’t help but feel the trio have brought their problems on themselves. As the characters degenerate into the state we find them in at the beginning, we understand more and can understand the processes that led them to the moment of wanting to end it all.
All three of the main leads excel in their roles, but this is in no ways a feel good movie or fun watch. It is, however, utterly enthralling and directed amazingly well. Roulette manages to take the anthology approach to storytelling, while keeping everything completely relevant and engrossing, and tying the threads together in a satisfying manner, before delivering a wonderful coup de grâce.
The film was made and released some time about in 2012, but never made it to the UK; hopefully, someone will put that right at some point. In the meantime, we strongly urge you to import the US DVD, as it’s a movie well worth watching.
ROULETTE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ERIK KRISTOPHER MYERS / STARRING: MIKE BALDWIN, WILL HAZA, ALI LUKOWSKI, MICHELLE MURAD / RELEASE DATE: TBC